KIDNAPPINGS AND other crimes related to gambling and victimizing Chinese nationals are on the rise, warned a citizens watchdog in a recent statement.
“Crimes related to casino or online gambling are on the rise. They no longer just result in torture and extortions but also…kidnapping, suicides and outright homicide and murders,” the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) said in a statement on March 11.
According to the group, the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has “recorded 15 victims of casino-related kidnapping incidents in 2018, and eight victims in the first two months of 2019.”
“This averages two victims a month, but MRPO reports that easily, five times more cases go unreported and therefore, undocumented by the AKG,” MRPO said.
“The incidents proliferate in geometric progression the past few years. The main problem is, very rarely do the victims file a case or pursue a case even if already filed.”
“The Tsinoy community likewise reports several cases of casino-related suicides, which apparently, are not reported to the police. Some of the victims were reportedly invited to work in the Philippines but before they start to work, they were enticed to gamble first to learn the ropes,” said MRPO.
The group added, “Unable to pay for the losses, they are then kept in a safe house, beaten and tortured until their families pay off. But a few victims decide to jump off tall buildings to spare their families the agony of paying off debts that their family cannot afford to pay.”
MRPO also said, “Despite the non-cooperation of the victims, the PNP, especially its Anti-Kidnapping Group, has been assiduous in doing their jobs although in most circumstances, it ends up being a waste of resources, manpower, time and effort when victims refuse to pursue the cases filed against malefactors.”
Among the cases cited by MRPO is that of Kate Liu, who “was abducted on Jan. 25, 2018 and was brought to a resort in Ternate, Cavite.”
“The suspects allegedly recommended her to act as an interpreter and picked her up from her residence to meet the client. Instead of proceeding to the nearby Solaire Hotel in Manila, she was brought to a Cavite resort, where she was able to seek help from the Filipino resort manager. The suspects escaped, but these were the same suspects who took Shi Guangdi, a student, just the week before (Jan. 16, 2018) Liu’s abduction.”
“Shi Guangdi paid P2 million ransom. Unfortunately, he left and returned to China even before AKG was able to file the case at the prosecutor’s office. The information from his case led to the arrest of the suspects in Liu’s kidnapping. The case is ongoing.”
MRPO proposed that the PNP, through AKG, establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) with the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Immigration to deport suspects arrested in casino-related kidnappings in instances where cases do not prosper in court.
The organization also proposed that the AKG seek the cooperation of the Chinese embassy to get data about suspects from China, especially to identify the accounts they use for money transfer.
Sought for comment, PNP Spokesperson Senior Supt. Bernard M. Banac said in a statement:
“The recent series of arrest of Chinese gang men involved in this activity is testament to the relentless effort of the PNP to check on these people.
“Although the crime involves Chinese victims and Chinese suspects, the fact that the crimes were committed in PHL soil makes the PNP duty bound to address these cases and serve the ends of justice regardless of who are involved.
“Despite the challenges, the PNP remains committed to its mandate to enforce the law, prevent online gaming crimes, and respond to reported incidents mainly thru the efforts of AKG, CIDG, IG and other operating units. In coordination with our international counterparts, we are seeking better and more effective ways to be one step ahead of mostly Chinese syndicates that prey on their fellow Chinese in a criminal scheme starting from an apparent harmless usury that eventually ends up to kidnapping for ransom incidents.” — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras