2 foreigners arrested for allegedly kidnapping POGO co-worker over unpaid debts

Photo: Bill Oxford/Unsplash
Photo: Bill Oxford/Unsplash

The Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) yesterday announced that they arrested an Indonesian and a Malaysian national in Angeles City, Pampanga for allegedly kidnapping their colleague in May.

Rano Herman and Ong Way Plak, both of whom work at a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO), allegedly illegally detained their co-worker, Lee Jun Sheng, after he failed to pay back his debts to them and to their employer. Lee reportedly wanted to go home to Malaysia but was barred from doing so because of his outstanding loans.

Read: ‘I want to go home’: Taiwanese trafficking victim cries abuse, alleges gov’t official ‘protecting’ POGO

The suspects allegedly detained Lee and at one point, the victim was even “sold” by his employer to another POGO company to be used as a slave. However, the victim was eventually sent back to his erring employer.

Herman and Ong started asking for ransom money from the victim’s family when he returned to their POGO. Lee’s kin ended up paying the duo a total of US$157,290 in May, but in July the suspects asked for US$1,716 more.

It was at this point that the Malaysian embassy sought the assistance of the PNP-AKG, which sent an undercover agent to pay the ransom to the suspects at a mall parking lot in the village of Malabanias on Tuesday afternoon. Both Herman and Ong personally accepted the cash, leading to their arrest. Their capture also led to the rescue of Lee, who had been detained at an Angeles City dorm for several months.

Kidnapping charges will be filed against the suspects, who are currently detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

POGOs have become controversial because their existence allegedly causes a spike in crime in a community. In fact, Makati Mayor Abby Binay announced in December that she would temporarily stop issuing business licenses to POGOs, alleging that such companies have contributed to the growth of prostitution and kidnapping in her city.

In a series of hearings in January, Senator Risa Hontiveros alleged that foreign women are being trafficked into the Philippines and are forced to work as prostitutes in brothels frequented by POGO employees. Her colleague, Joel Villanueva, has also alleged that most POGOs do not pay taxes, an accusation that the Department of Finance promised to investigate.

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