EDITORIAL - A resurgent scourge

The Philippine Star

There are no widespread kidnapping incidents in Metro Manila, whether targeting the Chinese-Filipino community or foreigners, according to the Philippine National Police. The PNP National Capital Region Police Office issued the statement to belie stories reaching a group of Chinese-Filipino businessmen that 56 kidnapping cases targeting Tsinoys were perpetrated in just 10 days in Makati, Parañaque, Pasay and Taguig cities.

From January to August this year, only four cases of kidnapping for ransom and six cases of serious illegal detention were recorded in Metro Manila, the NCRPO reassured the Tsinoy community. Nationwide, the PNP counted 27 kidnapping cases so far this year. Of the number, 15 have links to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator or POGO firms, one is casino-related and 11 are traditional kidnap-for-ransom cases.

Anti-crime watchdog Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order also clarified that while there has been a spate of kidnappings, the targets were mainly persons connected to POGOs. The MRPO said most of the victims were gamblers who frequented casinos, or POGO workers and gamblers held hostage over their gambling debts.

Some of the victims were reportedly turned over to “collectors” who mostly belong to organized crime rings, the MRPO said. It noted that many recent victims were women who were victims of human trafficking, who were promised regular jobs but ended up being forced into prostitution or to work in gaming.

The kidnapping and gruesome murder of Marikina-based Iraseth Pharma Inc. chief executive officer Eduardo Tolosa Jr. has raised concern over a possible resurgence of the scourge. Tolosa was last seen alive in a Toyota Land Cruiser on July 18 when he picked up P5.7 million in cash and two expensive watches from his personal assistant in BGC in Taguig. Police said the kidnappers demanded P100 million in ransom from Tolosa’s relatives. The Land Cruiser was later found burned in Pampanga. Tolosa was never seen again.

Five suspects who have been arrested in connection with the murder reportedly told PNP probers that after Tolosa was killed, his corpse was burned over three days in a farm in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The five pointed to a casino card dealer, Carlo Cadampog, as the mastermind.

This is not the only kidnapping and murder linked to gambling. Since May last year, 34 cockfight aficionados have disappeared, prompting the government to shut down e-sabong operations. Probers said relatives of the victims have received calls advising them to stop pursuing the cases. Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, has said rogue cops are believed to be involved in the kidnappings.

Whether the kidnap victims are Filipinos or foreigners, and whether or not the cases are mostly gambling-related, this could quickly get out of hand, with people in other sectors targeted. The PNP must work harder to prevent the situation from spinning out of control.


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