By Aaron Recuenco
The steep rise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO)- and casino-related abduction cases has led to the need for additional personnel to be assigned to the police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG).
AKG Luzon Field commander Lt. Col. Villaflor Bannawagan said the number of kidnapping cases they are handling has ballooned since 2017 following the rise of POGOs in the country.
“If possible we need it and we can even request for it. For now, we have additional personnel undergoing training,” said Bannawagan in a press briefing at Camp Crame on Thursday.
A total of 67 POGO- and casino-related kidnapping cases have been recorded by the AKG since 2017. More than 100 Chinese have already been arrested in connection with some of these cases. Almost all of the victims are also Chinese.
AKG spokesman Lt. Col. Jowel Saliba said recent cases involved the arrest of two Chinese and the rescue of their Chinese victim in Parañaque, and the rescue of a Taiwanese in San Pedro City.
“Both cases are casino-related kidnappings,” Saliba said.
The problem in dealing with POGO- and casino-related abductions, according to Bannawagan, is that there is no assurance that the cases they file will be pursued.
“In some cases, some of the victims would already leave the country and could no longer be contacted for court hearings. There were also cases that the two parties would reach amicable settlement,” resulting in the dismissal of the cases, Bannawagan said.