The Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group reported a total of 42 cases of abduction – linked to scenarios involving either bricks and mortar casinos or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) – for the first 11 months of this year, according to local media reports.
The 42 cases in the calendar year to November 30 involved a total of 49 victims, several media outlets reported, citing data released by the anti-abduction unit.
Most cases – 36 in total – were related to the casino sector; while the remaining six were related to POGOs, according to the police data cited by the media.
The majority of the victims and suspects was Chinese nationals, the Philippine News Agency reported, citing police anti-abduction squad spokesperson Jowel Saliba.
The casino-related kidnapping cases usually involved victims having been invited to play in the country’s casinos and offered gambling loans by alleged loan-shark syndicates that were run by Chinese suspects, said the reports. Failure to repay the debt in the event of losses by the player had resulted respectively in abduction of the victims, reported the Manila Bulletin citing data from the anti-kidnap unit.
Meanwhile, POGO-related kidnappings were said mostly to have involved Chinese POGO workers allegedly abducted by their employers and forced to go back to work when they attempted to run away, the Manila Bulletin reported. Such people had typically complained they had been duped about their terms of employment and had had their travel documents retained by the people that had recruited them.
The increase in the number of casino-related kidnapping cases in the country has been a subject of concern among the Philippine authorities. The most recent public report of an alleged POGO-related kidnapping cases was on Monday, according to local media.
In that instance, it had been alleged a Chinese female employee of a POGO firm was forcibly taken by a group of unidentified men into a vehicle on Monday night in Makati city in Metro Manila. The Makati City Police Office was investigating the case, and authorities were searching for security camera footage in the area where the alleged crime took place, the Philippine News Agency reported on Tuesday.
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"The casinos have to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The decision [to suspend casino operations] is up to the government. As of now, we don’t have any plan to change the existing regulations"
Lei Wai Nong
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance