AT least 37 incidents of kidnappings, illegal detention and abduction involving Chinese nationals have been recorded by the Southern Police District since 2016 to date with authorities suspecting that majority of them were connected with casino loan shark syndicates, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
A report from the SPD headed by Brig. Gen. Nolasco K. Bathan showed that in 2016, they recorded a total of 18 ‘kidnapping’ cases, 15 incidents of illegal detention and 4 cases of abduction so far this year.
The SPD report showed that in 2016 and 2017, only a single case of ‘kidnapping’ was both investigated by the Pasay City Police Station 1. In 2018, the number increased to 10 of which 6 took place in Parañaque City.
So far this year, there were already 6 ‘kidnappings’ of Chinese nationals which have taken place in the SPD jurisdiction, 3 of them in Parañaque City.
Of the 15 cases of illegal detention involving Chinese nationals, 1 took place in Parañaque City in 2016; 1 each in Makati City and Parañaque City in 2017; 7 cases in 2018 of which 3 each happened in Pasay City and Parañaque City.
On the other hand, there were 4 cases of ‘abduction’ involving Chinese nationals in the same area from 2016 to date: 2 in Pasay City and 1 each in Makati City and Las Piñas City.
The SPD reported to National Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, that majority of the cases were jointly investigated by the concerned units with the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group.
The PNP-AKG headed by Colonel Jonnel C. Estomo earlier raised concern over cases of Chinese nationals concocting ‘kidnapping-for-ransom’ tales after they were victimized by casino loan shark syndicates that lent them money while playing in casinos mostly located in the southern part of Metro Manila.
One of them identified as Liang Qi confessed he fabricated a kidnapping story after he was found by PNP-AKG agents outside the Bayview Park Hotel in Manila.
The ‘kidnapping’ of Liang Qi was reported to the PNP-AKG by the China Embassy after its help was sought by the man’s distraught father from China.
It turned out that the supposed kidnapping victim checked in at the hotel with two fellow Chinese identified as Luo Tao and Lie Xie. During questioning by the PNP-AKG, Liang Qi confessed he was kidnapped by his compatriots after he failed to pay the P500,000 cash they lent him after he lost heavily on the casino tables.
“He confessed that he contacted thru We Chat his father in China and asked him to send him 70,000 RMB or roughly P490,000 in order to pay the suspects,” Estomo said.
Liang Qi was the latest Chinese national who confessed to be a victim of a casino loan shark ring operating in the country. The Chinese-led syndicate is known for lending money to their gambling compatriots in order for them to recoup their casino losses.
Once they fail to immediately pay their debt, the victims are seized and tortured to force them to call their families abroad. However, there have been misconceptions that they were victimized by Filipino kidnappers.
Since 2017, the PNP-AKG said 112 Asian nationals including 106 from Mainland China have been arrested by PNP agents for their involvement in ‘casino-related’ kidnappings-for-ransom.
Apart from the 106 Chinese nationals, there were two Malaysians, four Koreans and seven Filipinos arrested for involvement in the same caper from 2017 to date, the period which saw 56 foreigners being abducted by casino loan shark syndicates and forced to pay huge amount of ransom for their safe release, said Estomo.
Ironically, majority of the cases filed against the suspects specifically Chinese nationals did not prosper in court following the failure of the victims to pursue the charges against their abductors and their immediate return to their motherland after being freed in rescue operations by PNP-AKG agents and other PNP units and law enforcement agencies.