GAMBLING-LINKED KIDNAPPING. AKG director Col. Jonnel Estomo on Thursday (Oct. 3, 2019) says the PNP will hold a summit on casino-related kidnapping incidents at the Novotel Hotel in Cubao, Quezon City. The summit which will be held on Friday (Oct. 4, 2019) will focus on workshops and discussions on the issues and concerns on the rise of casino and Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)-related kidnapping incidents. (Photo courtesy of PNP-AKG)

MANILA — To address the spike of gambling-related kidnapping cases in the country, the Philippine National Police-Anti Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) is set to conduct a summit on casino-related kidnapping incidents in Quezon City on Friday.

In a statement Thursday, AKG director Col. Jonnel Estomo said the summit, themed “Strategic Partnership and Collaboration Towards a Kidnap-Free Philippines”, will gather officials of various government agencies such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), Bureau of Immigration, Airport Police, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Anti-Money Laundering Council, local government units, Philippine National Police and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Also participating in the summit are private sector groups including the Federation of Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCII), security heads of casino establishments and foreign embassies and consulates and their police attachés.

PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde will serve as guest of honor and speaker of the event to be held at the Novotel Hotel and Resorts in Cubao from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The summit proper will be focusing on workshops and discussions on the issues and concerns on the rise of casino and Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)-related Kidnapping Incidents.

“There will be an AKG Summit Template, there new approaches and procedures, specific issues and problems, probable causes, interventions (programs, projects and activities), expected output and timeline on how to address the problems. And to craft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with different foreign embassies,” Estomo said.

He said the AKG has partnered with Pagcor for the procurement of mobile communication/investigation van and set a summit on casino debt-related kidnappings, aimed at forming an action plan to combat these crimes.

Earlier, AKG spokesperson Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno said the AKG has arrested so far 125 foreigners, mostly Chinese, in connection with gambling-related kidnapping cases in the country.

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.

The AKG spokesperson 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 the 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. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)