The number of kidnapping cases in the country has ballooned to at least 75 cases in the past three years, with the police attributing the sharp increase to casino and Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO)-related abductions involving Chinese victims and kidnappers.
The Anti-Kidnapping Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) stated that for this year alone, 42 cases of casino and POGO-related kidnappings were recorded involving 49 victims.
AKG spokesman Lt. Col. Jowel Saliba said that from January to November this year, they were able to arrest 88 suspects, rescued 29 victims and solved 27 cases.
Since 2017 when Chinese gaming investors and workers have started to flock the country, a total of 75 cases were reported which include that of January to November this year.
For 2017, there were 17 cases reported to the AKG involving 19 victims. The operations also resulted in the arrest of 59 suspects.
Last year, 16 cases were reported that involve 17 victims. Saliba said 17 suspects were arrested.
Police, however, admitted that not all casino and POGO-related kidnappings are reported.
Based on AKG data, casino and POGO kidnappings have different motivations.
For casino-related kidnappings, the victims are usually Chinese tourists who are reportedly being invited to the country to play in the casino as part of their itinerary.
Those who would invite them to play are usually members of loan shark syndicates being ran by Chinese suspects with Filipino cohorts.
Once the potential victim arrives in the country, he would be encouraged to play at the casino with the loan sharks offering huge sum of money once he runs out of cash.
When the victim losses and fails to pay, he would be taken to the hideouts of the loan shark syndicates where they would be beaten up and treated like animals.
The video of the torture and their living condition would then be sent to the relatives of the victims in order to force their families to pay.
In POGO kidnapping, the victims are mostly Chinese who were invited to work at POGOs in various parts of the country. It is the operators which usually take care of the travel documents and expenses of their employees from China.
But as soon as the Chinese workers arrive in the country, the promised monthly salary would not be given and would be instead cut by 50 percent. The victims are also being duped on their food and accommodation.
Since the passports and other travel documents are controlled by the operators who recruited them, most of them have no choice but to stay.
But for those who would attempt to flee with the help of their countrymen, they would be allegedly abducted by those who recruited them and would be forced to go back to their work.
The daring kidnapping of a Chinese woman in Makati City on Monday night by her alleged countrymen is the usual modus operandi.
Despite the presence of witnesses and even policemen, casino and POGO kidnappers would fearlessly pull off the abduction.
Recently, at least three Chinese were arrested after they were caught in the act of forcing another Chinese to board the van they were riding right at the waiting area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
The arrest occurred after the victim resisted the kidnapping by holding tightly to a metal railing while he was being pulled inside the van. Despite the presence of airport security that include policemen, the Chinese continue to pull the victim inside the vehicle.
The AKG, in a position paper a few months ago, said the rise of kidnapping cases in the country is attributed to the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.
Most of the kidnappings would occur in the southern part of Metro Manila where most of the Chinese-run POGOs and casinos are located. (Aaron Recuenco)