THE PHILIPPINE National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) is seeking to beef up their manpower to cope with the rising number of kidnappings related to the offshore gaming sector and casinos. Lt. Col Villaflor Bannawagan, head of the AKG Luzon Field Unit, said they need more personnel as the number of kidnappings have increased due to the influx of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) in the country. “We need it and we can request for it,” he said in a press briefing at Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters, yesterday. AKG currently has 321 police officers and personnel assigned at the headquarters and field offices nationwide. This number is short by 162 from the ideal strength of 483 officers and personnel nationwide, he said. The AKG documented 36 casino-related kidnappings from Jan. to Nov. this year, more than double the 16 cases in 2018. There were also six POGO-related kidnappings since January, mostly involving Chinese employers who restrict their Chinese workers from going back to their country after finding their contracts deceptive. Mr. Bannawagan said having additional personnel will give them more capability in responding to these types of kidnappings.

Meanwhile, a Chinese who was kidnapped by suspected members of a Chinese loan shark syndicate was rescued in Parañaque City on Tuesday, the police reported yesterday. Operatives of the PNP-AKG rescued Wang Hong, 29, at the Baymont Hotel from his captors identified as Chinese nationals Wan Renhong, 32, and Wan Liang, 36. Police filed kidnapping for ransom with serious illegal detention charges against the suspects before the Department of Justice in Manila on Wednesday. The victim and his abductors were brought to Camp Crame for investigation. — PHILSTAR/Emmanuel Tupas