MANILA - The number of kidnapping cases involving Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) has increased from January to September this year compared to last year, the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) said on Tuesday.
Citing the latest data, it said a total of 17 POGO-related kidnapping cases were reported compared to 12 incidents from January to December last year.
Meanwhile, the first nine months of this year saw 13 traditional kidnap for ransom (KFR) cases, compared to 24 traditional KFR cases logged in 2021.
Authorities also recorded one casino-related kidnapping this year.
So far, a total of 31 kidnapping cases have been recorded, still lower than a total of 36 cases in 2021.
The victims of POGO-related kidnapping incidents last year include 19 Chinese nationals and one Vietnamese while from January to September this year, the victims included 19 Chinese nationals, a Vietnamese, a Malaysian, and a Taiwanese.
Out of the 36 kidnapping cases in 2021, 23 cases were solved, seven were cleared and six are still under investigation.
Meanwhile, out of this year's kidnapping cases, 14 were solved, five were cleared and 12 are still under investigation.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said earlier the crackdown on POGOs linked to illegal activities is part of the government's efforts to preserve the country's safe business climate.
Azurin said the POGOs have agreed to comply with the clearances from both the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as part of the requirements for working in the country.
He said this was an offshoot of the meeting they initiated with POGOs amid the rising cases of criminal activities in the country which involve their workers.
The PNP is also working with the POGOs to likewise require their workers to present proof that they are not wanted for criminal offenses in their respective countries.
"With such a requirement, the government can ascertain that POGO workers coming here are law-abiding in their country and can also be law-abiding and respectful of our laws here," Azurin said. (PNA)