MANILA, Philippines — Kidnappings involving personnel of the Chinese-run Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) increased by at least 88 percent last year, the police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) reported on Monday.
Data from the AKG showed that 17 POGO-related kidnappings occurred in 2020, higher by 88.88 percent compared to nine cases in 2019.
AKG director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo attributed the spike to the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein POGO firms were forced to shut down their operations.
“Employers have no profit and in order to survive, they will detain their employees, deprive them and ask for money in exchange for liberty to their families abroad,” Estomo explained.
The number of victims increased by 76.92 percent, from 13 in 2019 to 23 in 2020.
A total of 33 suspects were arrested last year, slightly lower compared to 34 in the previous year.
The AKG also filed 10 cases in 2020, higher compared to six in 2019.
Estomo said they have intensified their intelligence operability with local police units.