MANILA, Philippines — A driver and his business partner were allegedly kidnapped by loan sharks in Pasay City after they gambled away in a casino P2 million meant for a business investment.
In a press conference on Wednesday, police identified the victims as Eugenio Santos, 39, and his business partner, Alvin Bangug, 45.
Police said Santos and Bangug borrowed P2 million from suspect Melvin Culala, 39, on September 4 to shore up their planned cigarette distribution business.
Police said Santos needed P2.3 million but Culala was only able to provide P2 million.
According to police, Santos then decided to gamble with the P2 million in a casino to raise the balance of P300,000. However, Santos lost all the money in the casino, police said.
“‘Yung P300,000 na kulang, ang naisipan namin na ilaro [yung P2 million na pera] makuha sana yung P300,000 na kakulangan. Ang nangyari minalas talaga,” Santos said.
On Sept. 5, Culala’s accomplice Francis Reyes, 41, with Reynaldo Parolina, 41, Rico Castillo, 45, Nathaniel Aragon, 35, and Christopher Bagro, 38, went to Santos’ house and demanded the return of the P2 million.
When Santos said he lost the money in gambling, the suspects forcibly dragged him inside a Toyota Innova with plate number WA 3577.
The suspects then snatched Bangug and detained both victims inside a room in a Pasay City casino.
Santos said the suspects even threatened to kill their families if they try to escape.
Police said the suspects then ordered Santos to ask P1.8 million from his wife in exchange for their release.
Santos however could not raise the amount and instead offered to give suspects land titles for properties worth P8 million.
Santos then called his wife to prepare the documents but his wife instead sought the help of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG).
On Sept. 6, Operatives of the anti-kidnapping unit went to the casino and arrested Parolina, Castillo, Aragon and Bagro while Bangug and Santos were rescued.
In a follow-up operation, police nabbed Reyes and Culala in a gasoline station in Parañaque City.
Seized by police was a Glock 23 cal. 40 pistol with a magazine. Police said the license for the gun was already expired.
When the suspects were presented in Camp Crame, they denied kidnapping Santos and Bangug.
“Hindi po. Hindi po kami dun wala pong kidnap dito, andun po sa CCTV,” one of the alleged kidnappers said.
The arrested suspects were taken to the PNP-AKG office in Camp Crame for detention while complaints for kidnapping for ransom and illegal detention and illegal possession of firearms are being readied against them. /muf
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