By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) will be deploying at least two of its strike teams in a satellite office to be set up near the casinos where foreign tourists are usually being victimized by casino-related kidnappings.
AKG director Col. Jonnel Estomo said the AKG satellite office will be set up in a strategic area in the southern part of Metro Manila where most of the casinos with reported kidnappings since 2017 are located.
“We will be deploying two of our teams in the satellite office. They will be tasked to immediately respond to all reports of kidnappings in the casinos,” said Estomo.
“This is part of our effort to address the problem of rising number of casino-related kidnappings wherein almost all of the victims are Chinese and almost all of the perpetrators are also Chinese,” he added.
Based on the AKG data obtained by the Manila Bulletin, a total of 53 casino-related cases were reported since 2017. There were 57 victims of kidnapping and almost all of them are Chinese.
The victims were lured by Chinese loan sharks to come to the Philippines for rest and recreation. They would be allowed to borrow money that would be used to play in the casinos.
Once the victims fail to pay the money they owed to the loan sharks, they would be detained and tortured. The video of the torture would be sent to the relatives of the victims to force them to pay.
More than 100 Chinese loan shark suspects have been arrested since 2017, and all of them were charged with serious illegal detention and robbery extortion.
The AKG attributed the increase in casino-related kidnappings to the rise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) in the country that currently employs more than 200,000 Chinese.
Aside from putting up a satellite office, AKG spokesman Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno said that they will also deploy intelligence operatives in all casinos.
“The deployment of intelligence operatives is part of our pro-active measures to address this problem,” said Cereno.