Authorities arrested a Chinese national who held captive his compatriot due to gambling debt, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) said Monday.
AKG spokesman Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno identified the suspect as Libu Xu, one of the kidnappers of victim Xiaoguo Bian, 25, from Shandong in China.
Cereno said Bian was given a PHP1.5 million loan by the group of Xu, which he used to play and lost in baccarat at Midas Hotel in Pasay City.
He said Xu was arrested on August 15 at Midas Hotel after being identified by Bian as among those who kidnapped him.
Bian said he was held captive by at least six Chinese men, including Xu, when he failed to pay his debt, which carries a PHP500,000 interest.
Unable to pay the amount, Cereno said Xiaogu was detained in a hotel where he was beaten up. The video of the torture was reportedly sent to China to force his family to pay 300,000 Chinese renminbi (around PHP2.2 million).
After failing to get the money, the suspects took Bian to the Pasay City Police Station on August 11 where they told the police that they would file a case against him.
The suspects then took a photo of Bian while inside the detention and sent it to his father who was in China and demanded ransom money for his release.
“The duty investigator was busy that time so he decided to temporarily place the victim inside the detention cell before he could attend to the complaint of the Chinese,” Cereno said.
Unknown to the police duty investigator, one of the four Chinese took a video of Bian inside the detention cell and sent the footage to his family to further force them to pay.
“The investigator said he has no intention of detaining the victim because he was busy during that time. The Chinese suspects told him that they want to sue the victim because he was unable to pay his debt,” Cereno said.
“So while the duty investigator was busy, they put him inside the jail without his knowledge. The investigator did not see that the Chinese men filmed the victim while he is in jail,” he added.
Cereno said Bian was released after the police investigator found no sufficient evidence to pursue the case since the four Chinese suspects did not also present pieces of evidence for the supposed debt that the victim has to pay.
He said they learned of the incident on August 15 after the father of Bian arrived and sought their assistance as his son was locked up in police jail.
The backtracking of the case and review of some closed-circuit television camera (CCTV) footage resulted in the rescue of Bian inside a condo unit in Pasay City.
Authorities arrested Xu during the rescue operation.
Cereno said all the other five suspects were identified and charged with kidnapping-for-ransom and illegal detention along with Xu before the Department of Justice.
“We are now conducting follow-up operation against the other suspects,” he said.
He said Bian was the 53rd victim of casino-gambling related kidnappings in the country since 2017.
He said they also coordinated with the Chinese embassy in the Philippines for the security of their people visiting the country.
Meanwhile, the AKG advised all policemen, especially community precincts and police stations located near casinos, to be wary of small groups of Chinese turning over foreigners as the police force could be unwittingly exploited in extortion rackets.
Cereno said they will look over the possible liability of the police investigator in the Pasay police station as it was not in their protocol to detain a person being complained.
The AKG attributed the increase in casino-related kidnapping to the rise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) which are now employing more or less 200,000 Chinese. PNA