FOREIGN-LED casino loan syndicates in the country continue to give authorities, specifically the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) a major headache amid persistent findings that members of these rings are ‘abducting’ their victims who have failed to pay huge debt.
Worse, their targets immediately flee the country as soon as they are rescued by authorities without helping the local police prosecute the ring members, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
Officials bewailed that they are under pressure from foreign embassies to act on complaints that their citizens have been kidnapped although many investigations showed they were high-stake gamblers detained by loan sharks for failing to pay their huge casino debts. In many cases, the victims were found to have signed ‘formal loan agreements’ with the syndicate.
There have been countless cases of Chinese nationals reportedly kidnapped in Metro Manila although investigations showed they were tourists who spent days in casinos where they lost all their money. They were later enticed by syndicate members, many of them Chinese nationals too to borrow money from them, telling their targets they would need the cash to recoup their losses.
As soon as a victim fails to return the money he borrowed, he would be taken to a hotel room or a gang safehouse where he will be detained against his will while members of the syndicate force him to call his family abroad and ask that he be ‘ransomed.’
Officials said in many cases, these ‘willing victims,’ once rescued would immediately get their passports and return to their homeland without making any effort to testify against their tormentors.
“Their only concern is that they are safe and that they won’t be forced anymore to pay the money they borrowed from their compatriots-turned loan sharks,” said PNP-AKG director, Chief Superintendent Glenn G. Dumlao.
Early this month, Bulacan policemen rescued Lou Hao, a 33-year old Chinese national who was reportedly kidnapped by four of his compatriots outside a posh casino in Pasay City, local police director, Senior Superintendent Chito G. Bersaluna said. The victim claimed he was abducted by four unidentified male Chinese nationals outside a casino-resort in Pasay City. He likewise claimed that his abductors demanded 100,000 Yuan in exchange for his liberty. But failing to heed the suspects’ demand, he was beaten up and later dumped in Bgy. Talampas where he was spotted by local residents.
Last year, over 40 foreigners and their Filipino associates were arrested by the PNP-AKG for illegally detaining Asian casino addicts, incidents which have scared potential high stakes gamblers away from Manila.
Officials said the suspects have maintained their innocence and even asked the Department of Justice to dismiss the charges for kidnapping-for-ransom and serious illegal detention filed against them.
In many cases, the arrested suspects have claimed they did not abduct, ask for ransom, nor deprive their alleged victims including Chinese, Singaporean and South Korean nationals of their liberty.
The victims, it turns out have borrowed ranging from P600,000 to as much as P1 to 5 million from the loan sharks who detained. However, PNP-AKG officials said some of the victims have failed to cooperate with their investigation and in filing criminal charges against the suspects. Thus encouraging loan sharks to prey on more targets.
Last year alone, at least five ‘hoax kidnappings’ involving Chinese and Korean tourists had been investigated by the PNP-AKG following request for assistance from the China and South Korean Embassies. The PNP-AKG’s main worry is those fake kidnappings are being reported as ‘genuine’ abroad and giving the country a negative image.