POGO workers targets of kidnapping – group – Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The spate of kidnappings in the country is mostly related to targets from Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms, an anti-crime watchdog group said yesterday.
The Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) released a statement bewailing the spread of unverified reports of rampant kidnappings on social media platforms and warned the Chinese-Filipino community to refrain from forwarding unverified and exaggerated news of kidnappings so as not to create unnecessary fear and panic.
The MRPO statement came out after the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCCII) claimed that there had been 56 kidnapping cases over the last 10 days.
At a news conference at the House of Representatives, Lt. Gen. Jose Chiquito Malayo, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for administration, and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office Undersecretary Agapito Guanlao heard Bengsum Ko, PCCCII secretary-general, read the claim that kidnappings were reported within the Chinese-Filipino community.
The group had met with House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan to report the spate of kidnappings supposedly in Pasay, Parañaque, Makati and Taguig cities and appealed for Congress and law enforcement agencies to “take a more active role and act swiftly to suppress these criminals and eradicate these kidnapping syndicates.”
Malayo guaranteed Camp Crame’s prompt action but questioned the number of kidnapping cases being claimed by the PCCCII.
The MRPO confirmed that POGO-related kidnapping incidents were increasing. The victims in these cases are either gamblers who frequent casinos or workers and gamblers held hostage by the casino or their employers over their debts.
Some of them are turned over to syndicated “collectors,“ many of whom are members of criminal syndicates, the group added.
It is also true that many of the recent victims are females, many of them victims of human trafficking promised jobs here but ended up in casinos or forced into prostitution, MRPO said.
The group called on newly appointed Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) head Col. Rodolfo Castil Jr. and new PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin to help address the increase in kidnapping incidents, but admitted that “police authorities’ hands are tied because rarely do victims report the cases” or, when they do report, later retract and withdraw their complaint “because they were paid off and/or threatened.”
Yesterday, Col. Jean Fajardo, PNP spokesperson, disputed the PCCCII’s record of kidnapping incidents and cited data from the AKG that there were only 27 such incidents from January to date.
By the PNP’s count, the incidence of kidnapping this year is 25 percent lower compared with the same period last year at 36 cases.
Fajardo said that out of these 27 kidnapping cases, 15 are connected with POGO firms, one is casino-related and the other 11 are considered as traditional kidnap-for-ransom cases. – Pia Lee-Brago, Delon Porcalla
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