The Philippines reported 42 cases of kidnapping related either to casinos or POGOs in the first 11 months of 2019, according to latest figures from the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The kidnappings, which primarily involved Chinese nationals, included 36 casino-related crimes and six linked with the nation’s Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators industry. Of those, 21 cases have been solved with 21 people rescued, while 58 suspects have been arrested.
Inside Asian Gaming has previously reported that the number of people to have fallen victim to casino-related kidnappings in the Philippines had soared in 2019, with more than double the amount of kidnappings through the first nine months of the year than throughout all of 2018.
Instances of casino-related kidnappings appear to have slowed in the two months since that report, but it didn’t stop Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat issuing a statement on Wednesday aimed at reassuring tourists that the Philippines is safe to visit.
“It’s very much (safe),” she said. “We will not promote a place where we know it’s not safe. Why? If something happens to even a single tourist, it destroys the whole Philippines.
“We’re not only in touch with the PNP but also the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the local government units. It is to our advantage to make sure that the tourists are safe so that when they come to a particular destination, they’re assured nothing bad will happen to them, that they are safe and secure.”