Chinese nationals being abducted around Metro Manila have been the subject of news reports and unverified viral stories recently but for the first time since they were exposed two months ago, a clear video of such an incident has surfaced.
Yesterday, a Chinese woman was abducted in the business district Makati at around 9pm, local reports state. In a video now circulating on Twitter, she can be seen screaming for help as she is dragged into a silver van.
Makati City Police Chief Col. Rogelio Simon has confirmed the kidnapping and said that documents left behind at the scene included photocopies of Chinese passports and deeds of sale enclosed in an envelope. They are now tracking down anyone linked to these documents.
The van in the video was a Kia Carnival but its plate number was registered to a Mitsubishi L300, suggesting that the plate may have been stolen.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo downplayed the situation, saying that “Philippine streets remain safe” and describing the incident as an “isolated case.” However, a quick search would show that this is not the case.
In October, the police presented members of a kidnapping ring suspected of kidnapping two Chinese nationals identified as former employees of a Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) firm, just like the victim in last night’s incident.
According to risk analysis firm PSA Philippines Consultancy, there have been at least 21 incidents of Chinese nationals being abducted in relation to gambling debts in 2019, Rappler reported.
These have sparked concerns among Filipinos, with the video of yesterday’s incident going viral on social media. Earlier today, “Makati City” was the number one trending topic on Philippine Twitter.
User @anyasoco said she was legitimately terrified and reminded others to stay vigilant.
While user @ajejelicano hoped this would urge more authorities to focus on the kidnapping cases.
User @justineltchua warned other women to now walk in groups.
Simon said that they are now investigating the victim and perpetrators' links to POGOS, which mostly cater to mainland Chinese clients. POGOs have been linked to an increase in crime, a concern echoed by Makati Mayor Abby Binay on Sunday, who said they would stop issuing business permits to POGOs for this reason.