Azurin assures PNP looking into POGO-related abductions
SENATOR Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Monday called on the Senate and Malacanang to look into recent reports of kidnappings and torture that have been making rounds online.
In a press briefing, Ejercito also urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to expedite its ongoing investigations of the said incidents.
Ejercito filed Senate Resolution No. 194, which seeks to direct the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to conduct a probe on these “alarming” cases of kidnapping, abduction, and disappearances, especially those against women, Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) workers, and Filipino-Chinese individuals.
“Ngayon lang, we filed a resolution of course to put an end or if not, kung talagang totoo ito, for the authorities to take action because all the efforts of the administration to improve our tourism, to improve the business climate would be affected if these illegal activities and criminal activities of these syndicates continue in the country,” Ejercito said.
Senators Grace Poe and Imee Marcos had previously filed similar resolutions.
Ejercito’s resolution cited the alleged kidnapping of a Chinese national in broad daylight along the Skyway elevated highway and the documented torture of a male victim whose ear was cut off.
He also revealed during his press briefing that several intelligence reports indicate the presence of Cambodian-Chinese criminal syndicates in the country.
Arguing that criminal syndicates might be “testing the water” under the current administration, the lawmaker said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should issue an immediate directive to law enforcers, emphasizing the need to ramp up efforts against these criminal activities.
“Any directive from the President is policy and I think it will help so much if the President himself is on top of the situation, na talagang maaaddress niya agad, that yung peace and order situation under his leadership will be a top priority,” Ejercito said.
“Kasi every time there’s a new administration, probably they are testing the leadership. They’re testing President BBM’s administration, the new PNP. That is a possibility,” he added.
Ejercito said the national government risks losing the confidence of investors and the rest of the business sector if the ongoing spate of kidnappings and torture is not addressed.
“Dapat siguro, the authorities have to act swiftly para at least matapos na ito at makita nila na talagang they are in control,” he said.
“Peace and order are very essential in the rebuilding of our economy, in projecting that we have an investment-friendly climate,” he added.
The Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs is expected to conduct a hearing on the said criminal activities within the week, Ejercito announced.
PNP SERIOUSLY LOOKING INTO POGO-RELATED KIDNAPPINGS—AZURIN
Meanwhile, police are seriously looking into cases of POGO-related kidnappings in the country despite a number of fake news on the matter which Philippine National Police chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. affects effort by the Marcos government to project the country as a haven for investors and retirees.
According to the top cop, officials of both the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order have told him that there is no truth about reports regarding 56 kidnapping incidents which took place in the southern part of Metro Manila in 10 days only.
Even the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group headed by Colonel Rodolfo D. Castil Jr. reported a ‘zero kidnapping case’ on Monday, said the PNP chief
However, he lamented that previous videos regarding supposed kidnappings and other criminal acts which have been investigated or already solved by the police are still being released thru the social media by some persons.
“I really don’t know their intention but they are hurting not only the PNP but the entire economy. Naghihirap nga si Presidente Marcos na i-encourage and tourists and investors sa bansa natin but there are some people trying to paint a bad image of The Philippines,” said Gen. Azurin.
“Sana tumulong ang lahat na mapaunlad ang ekonomya natin by reporting only the truth,” he added.
The PNP chief said he has told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that ‘we need at least six months to stabilize the administration’ since it is shifting from another presidency.
“Definitely we will have detractors who are not happy with it,” he said.
Gen. Azurin said these people are the ones who don’t like to hear the good news that since the start of the Marcos administration last July 1, over 5,000 wanted persons have been arrested and more than 5,000 illegal gambling personalities wre hauled to jail by the police.
“There are some people who obviously are creating fear, who are claiming that it’s it not safe in our country pero sana magbago na sila and act with discernment,” he said.
Gen. Azurin said that reports of POGO-related kidnapping of foreigners by fellow foreigners “remain to be a concern for the PNP not only because it violates Philippine laws but more so because it does not fit well with the country’s desire to establish Philippines as an international tourist destination and investment haven for foreign capital.”
“While on official mission, I was constantly in touch with the Command Group and Quad-Staff, particularly on matters that required my guidance and authority, including some lingering issues involving the PNP that had been afloat even before I left the country,” he said in particularly referring to fake news on kidnappings.
The PNP chief said they are fully addressing POGO-related kidnappings and actually have sent more uniformed policemen to patrol POGO areas in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
He said that they have also discussed the lack of information regarding POGO workers in Metro Manila and thus need all the cooperation they can get from the Chinese Embassy as well as the Bureau of Immigration and PAGCOR to address the problem.
The top cop said that lately, they have found out that Chinese-Malaysians, Chinese-Vietnamese and Chinese-Cambodians are also being targeted by POGO syndicates.
“Thus we want a list of all POGO operators, want to know if they really have business permits issued by local government units, need to know which of them have licenses from the PAGCOR,” he said.
ESTOMO DOWNPLAYS KIDNAPPING REPORTS
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Brigadier Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo also dismissed a rise in kidnapping-for-ransom cases in Metro Manila during a talk with officials of the FFCCCII.
The official decided to talk with the FFCCCII officials to allay their fears amid reports about the widespread kidnapping of Filipino-Chinese citizens in the metropolis.
“Wala pong kidnapping na nangyayari. Kahit po sa ibang city wala po tayong ganyan mga kaso, hindi po ito totoo. Kung mayroon man po tayong natanggap na reklamo, lahat po ito ay naresolved na ng kapulisan,” the NCRPO director said.
Citing official NCRPO data, Brig. Gen. Estomo said that from January to Augsut this year, they recorded only four incidents of kidnappings-for-ransom and six incidents of serious illegal detention in the metropolis, all of which have been solved already with the arrest of the suspects and the rescue of the vicitms. By PS JUN M. SARMIENTO & ALFRED DALIZON