PNP nabs Chinese Pogo exec, ex-soldier for allegedly abducting workers
MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese national working for a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (Pogo) and a former military man were arrested for allegedly kidnapping two Chinese workers who wanted out of the gaming company.
According to reports from the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG), the suspects identified as a certain Zhu Li, who acted as a Pogo supervisor; and Julius Gangan, a former Army officer, were nabbed in an operation in Clark, Pampanga on Monday evening.
Rescued from the hotel room at the Fontana Leisure Park were victims identified as Chenger Qiang and Zhoang Song Qin. The rescue came after friends of the victims sought assistance from authorities.
Both victims worked for the Shidaiken Technology Corporation but eventually wanted to leave as early as October 2019 due to demands not addressed by their employers. However, Zhu, Gangan and another Chinese national reportedly abducted the victims from their hotel rooms in Makati City.
During the operation of the PNP-AKG’s Luzon field unit, Gangan was caught watching over the victims. He eventually pointed to the location of Zhu, who was at a nearby hotel.
“Ang unang na-arrest nila is itong security guard and no’ng na-arrest nila ‘yong security guard nandoon din ‘yong mga victim na binabantayan niya [First to be arrested was the security guard, after his arrest they saw the victims he was guarding],” AKG’s Luzon field unit chief Lt. Col. Villaflor Bannawagan said in a briefing on Tuesday.
“And then nagkaroon tayo ng follow-up operation, and then tinuro naman niya ‘yong sa kabilang hotel, na doon din sa Clark, na-arrest din natin itong babae na kasama rin sa grupo ng Chinese na nag-abduct dito sa dalawang victim natin [Then we conducted a follow-up operation, he also pinpointed the one inside the adjacent hotel also in Clark, there we arrested the woman who belonged to the Chinese group that abducted the two victims],” he added.
Reports from police said that the abductors were demanding ransom worth 150,000 Chinese yuan or over P1 million. Investigators also said that the victims, who have been detained for two days, bore signs of abuse, such as wounds and other marks in their body.
“‘Yong may mga marks eh, may mga marking sa katawan, allegedly pinahirapan din sila dahil ‘don sa dinedemand nila na dapat maka-bayad na ng 150,000 RMB [There were marks, marks all over their body, allegedly they were tortured because of the demand that they pay 150,000 RMB],” Bannawagan said. “Luckily, nakuha na natin sila.”
A .45-caliber Armscor pistol was recovered from Gangan’s sling bag, along with two magazines with six bullets each, two handcuffs, a knife, and a gun holster. The PNP-AKG said that the firearm’s registration was expired and that Gangan did not have any License to Own and Possess Firearms.
A Toyota Alphard, which the victims claimed used by the suspects to transport them from Makati to Pampanga, was also recovered at the hotel’s parking lot.
Cases for kidnapping for ransom, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms would be filed against the two suspects before the Department of Justice once investigators finish their report.
Kidnapping in relation to debts accumulated from gaming, whether online or in casinos, is not new. Previously, PNP said that they are monitoring schemes where Chinese nationals are lured into the Philippines for tourism and to play in casinos, with business people offering or lending money in case a player loses.
However, when the debt accumulates, the one owing money would fall hostage to the business people’s schemes, like being detained while pending payment.
This is also not the first incident of Pogo employees who wanted to resign being kidnapped. PNP-AKG previously admitted that the cases have been a growing concern, while Senator Joel Villanueva said that these incidents outweigh the positive impacts of the Pogo industry.
However, other officials are also wary of Pogo sites being used by the Chinese government to spy on the country’s affairs.
Edited by JPV
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