Kidnappings down by 61% in 2020

Kidnappings down by 61% in 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Kidnapping incidents decreased by at least 61 percent last year, according to the police Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG).

Data from the AKG showed that 33 kidnappings occurred in 2020, lower by 61.17 percent compared to 85 cases in 2019.

Seventeen of the kidnappings involved personnel of the Chinese-run Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), followed by 14 kidnapping for ransom cases.

Two more incidents involved loan sharks who lend money or casino chips to gamblers, then detain them until the victims pay back what they owe with corresponding interest.

The drop in kidnapping cases occurred when the government imposed restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.

However, POGO-related kidnappings increased from nine to 17, or a spike of 88.88 percent. The AKG earlier attributed the increase to the closure of POGO firms during the lockdown, wherein employers opted to detain their employees for ransom to survive.

Also, the number of victims in 2020 went up from 13 to 23, or a spike of 43.47 percent. Majority of the victims are Chinese with 18 followed by three Taiwanese, a Malaysian and a Vietnamese.

With the government allowing more people outside to revive the economy, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is enhancing visibility patrols on the streets.

PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said the move is necessary to limit opportunities for criminals to carry out their nefarious activities.

“We are enhancing our visibility patrols, focused operations to address these challenges,” he said.

Asked if he sees kidnappings will increase this year as restrictions are eased, Sinas said he does not see it happening.

He said they were expecting cases of looting to increase during the COVID-19 outbreak but it has not happened, which shows that most Filipinos are resilient despite the hardships facing the country.

“This means we have restraint and follow government directives,” Sinas said.