File photo courtesy of WESCOM Public Affairs Office

MANILA — The Philippine National Police-Anti Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) has arrested 132 foreigners, mostly Chinese, in connection with gambling-related kidnapping cases in the country.

AKG spokesperson, Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno said that since 2017, 61 cases of casino-related kidnappings have been recorded. Arrested were 119 Chinese, two Malaysians, four Koreans, and seven Filipinos.

Cereno said in the 61 cases they recorded, 57 Chinese nationals were rescued along with four Malaysians, three Koreans, one Vietnamese, Australian, Singaporean and an American.

He said there were 17 cases recorded in 2017, 16 in 2018 and 28 as of September 21, 2019.

Cereno attributed these to the rise in the number of hotel and casino leisure facilities in the Philippines, which eventually attracted many foreigners to the country.

“This invites syndicates with a criminal mind, to involve in a wicked business of loan sharking inside the casino premises. Thus, incidents of kidnapping related to gambling debt arise from 2017 to date,” Cereno said.

He said casino junket operators, mostly Chinese nationals through their agents, would also look for their compatriots abroad, as part of their efforts to target them for their illegal schemes.

Earlier, AKG Director, Col. Jonnel Estomo said they are closely coordinating and liaising with their foreign counterparts, the Department of Justice, National Capital Regional Police Office, the Bureau of Immigration, NAIA management and other PNP territorial units regarding the incidents.

He said the AKG has partnered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation for the procurement of mobile communication/investigation van and also set a summit on casino debt-related kidnappings, aimed at forming an action plan to combat these crimes. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)