BELIEVE it or not but suspects in casino-related kidnappings-for-ransom, mostly Chinese nationals simply get away with their crime due to lack of interest by their victims to prosecute their cases and their penchant to immediately leave the country as soon as they are rescued from their ruthless captors.
Amid the lack of complainants, police specifically the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group are forced to obey orders from inquest prosecutors to release the suspects on pain of being charged with illegal detention, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
This is the reason why the PNP-AKG headed by Colonel Jonnel C. Estomo has pressed the need to sustain the legal offensive and an intensified intelligence-driven operation against foreign syndicates involved in casino-related kidnapping-for-ransom cases.
Most importantly, the member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Tanglaw-Diwa’ Class of 1992 said they are asking Congress to pass new laws that will ensure the prosecution of syndicates involved in these kidnappings in Metro Manila.
The official said the booming hotel and casino industry in the Philippines over the past few years actually had led to the influx of foreign gamblers, majority of them Chinese nationals who are being enticed by casino loan shark rings to visit Manila to gamble so that they can fall prey to their illegal activities.
According to Estemo, the PNP-AKG has recorded 52 cases of casino-related kidnappings since 2017 when Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGO hubs in the country started.
Majority of the victims were Chinese nationals, investigations of which led in the arrest of 119 Chinese kidnappers.
PNP-AKG records said in 2017, there were 16 Chinese, one Singaporean and two Koreans who became victims of 17 ‘casino-related’ kidnappings. In 2018, the PNP-AKG recorded 16 ‘kidnappings’ which led in the abduction of 17 Chinese mainlanders.
So far this year, the PNP-AKG has already investigated 19 of these kidnappings which saw the abduction of 15 Chinese, one Australian, one Korean, one American and two Malaysians.
Estomo said of the 119 suspects arrested from 2017 to date, the biggest number was recorded in 2017 with 59 suspects composed of 50 Chinese, seven Filipinos and two Malaysians. In 2018, a total of 17 Chinese nationals were arrested for the same illegal activity. So far this year, a total of 39 Chinese and four Koreans have been arrested for ‘casino-related’ kidnappings.
Early this month, a Chinese tourist whose reported ‘kidnapping-for-ransom’ prompted the China Embassy to seek the attention of the PNP-AKG confessed he was a victim of a casino loan shark syndicate and not real kidnappers shortly after he was found by anti-kidnapping agents near a Manila hotel.
During questioning at the PNP-AKG headquarters in Camp Crame, the Chinese national confessed he was kidnapped by his compatriots after he failed to pay the P500,000 cash they lent him after he lost heavy on the casino tables.