A Taiwanese man was allegedly kidnapped and held for two days without food or water after arriving in the Philippines for a job in the gambling industry, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines said on Monday.
The incident was the 10th case this year of a Taiwanese reportedly being kidnapped and extorted after becoming involved with Philippine gambling companies.
The man, surnamed Yeh (葉), found a job posting online for a company based in Makati in Metro Manila, TECO police attache Jerry Wang (王智勇) said.
Yeh refused to accept the job after he was taken to a location different from the one he was told, Wang said.
Company employees then allegedly handcuffed and beat Yeh, and demanded 15,000 yuan (US$2,200) for his release, he said.
Yeh’s girlfriend e-mailed the office, saying: “The original person said that the job was in Makati, but they sent him to Pasay. After taking his passport, they said he was sold to someone else. He refused the job, so they kidnapped him and asked for a 15,000 yuan ransom. I have not been able to get hold of him after last speaking with him at 7pm on Sept. 15.”
The office contacted the woman for more information and the same evening requested assistance from the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group, Wang said.
Officers on Sept. 17 set out to raid the building where they suspected Yeh was being held, but while en route received a message that he had been traded to a third company, Wang said.
Yeh’s girlfriend set up a meeting with the company, but when they brought Yeh to the site, Philippine police were waiting for them, he said.
Wang said that Yeh’s captors had beat him with rods, causing extensive bruising on his back, left shoulder and arm.
Yeh said that he was handcuffed and for two days “did not receive any food or water.”
“I had to drink my own urine to survive,” he said.
It was only after he was transferred to the third company that he was given something to eat, he said.
Yeh thanked Philippine police and the office, saying that he was rescued and escaped more serious harm due to their hard work and a bit of luck.
Representative to the Philippines Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) said that he was pleased with the rapid response.
Since 2018, 32 Taiwanese have been reported kidnapped or detained by groups in the Philippine gambling industry over disputes or outstanding loans, prompting repeated warnings from TECO, Hsu said.
Although the office and Philippine police have rescued and repatriated victims, the physical and emotional scars they are left with are harder to heal, Wang said.
Taiwanese have become the main target of Philippine gambling firms, as Chinese in the industry were instructed to return before Feb. 8 or risk cancelation of their passports, freezing of bank accounts and confiscation of property, Wang said.
Those interested in entering the industry should collect as much information as possible — including the company’s legal status, contract details and actual work expectations — and assess the risk accordingly, he said.
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