A TOTAL of 112 Asian nationals including 106 from Mainland China have been arrested by Philippine National Police agents for their involvement in “casino-related” kidnap-for-ransom cases since 2017, records from the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group showed.
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 abducted by casino loan shark syndicates and forced to pay huge amounts of ransom for their safe release, said PNP-AKG director Colonel Jonnel C. 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.
PNP-AKG records showed that 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 “casino-related kidnappings” which led in the abduction of 17 Chinese mainlanders.
This year, the PNP-AKG has already investigated 19 “casino kidnappings” involving 15 Chinese, one Australian, one Korean, one American and two Malaysians.
Estomo said of the 119 suspects arrested since 2017, 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. This year, a total of 39 Chinese and four Koreans have been arrested for “casino kidnappings.”
The victims were tourists who played and lost all their money in posh casinos in Metro Manila.
Unknown to them, syndicate members have been watching their activities to offer huge loans to recoup their losses. Once they lose again, the kidnappers will seize and force them to pay their casino debts with as much as 20 percent interest a day.
The kidnappers are known for their ruthlessness, torturing their captives in front of video cameras and sending the torture videos to the families of their victims abroad to force them to give the ransom money.
The PNP-AKG said in a case last January 14, four Chinese nationals were abducted shortly after leaving Solaire Resort by a group of Chinese nationals. After being divested of their cash and valuables, the victims were forced to call their families in China to demand ransom.
Victims Lin Xiao Sen, Yan Wen Long and Lin Hong Lu reportedly paid 168 million RMB to the kidnappers. One of their fellow captives also died as a result of beatings she suffered from her captors.
On December 18, 2018, Chinese nationals Chen Yefeng and Wanfeng Lu were also kidnapped in Pasay City and were forced to pay 100 million RMB.
Two others identified as Faqiang Guo and Fangmei Zhu were abducted in Pasay City last January 14 and reportedly were forced to transfer a total of P3 billion to their kidnappers’ account through wire transfer.
Another identified as Li Chao was seized last May 17 inside the Royal N Wan KTV Bar on Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City and reportedly transferred 25 million RMB to the kidnappers’ escrow account.
On the other hand, another identified as Zhang Rongbin was seized last May 18 inside the Double Dragon Plaza Tower 4 in Pasay City and reportedly paid one million RMB to the kidnappers.
Two others identified as Zhen Zhang and Renxian Lu were kidnapped last June 7 outside the NAIA Terminal 1 in Pasay City and reportedly were forced to pay 15 million RMB to their captors.
Estomo, a member of Philippine Military Academy “Tanglaw Diwa” Class of 1992 admitted they are being beset with the tough challenge of fighting the “casino-related kidnap-for-ransom” cases .
Although the PNP-AKG has managed to reduce KFR incidents by conducting massive operations which led to the neutralization of dozens of notorious kidnap gangs over the past three years, it has been confronted with the new threat of “casino-related” abductions.
Two months ago, PNP-AKG agents raided the safehouses of Filipino cohorts of a Chinese-led KFR, one of the targets identified as a dismissed policeman.
The suspects are wanted for their involvement in the kidnap-for-ransom of Chinese nationals Guo Faquiang, Zhu Fangmei, Li Chao, Zhang Zhen and Lu Renxian last January 14.
Guo Faquiang was told by the kidnappers to pay three billion Yuan for their safe release. The victims however asked that the ransom money be reduced to 30 million RMB, an offer rejected by the kidnappers.
Guo made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from his captors in an incident witnessed by some residents of Santos Village 3 in Barangay Zapote, Las Piñas City the following day.
On the same afternoon, an unconscious Zhu Fangmei was dropped by the suspects near the same area. The victim died while undergoing treatment at the St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig City.