Palace: Makati abduction an 'isolated' case, but stay alert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public that streets of Metro Manila remain safe despite the viral incident of an abduction in Makati City.

"I think that particular incident is isolated. I’ve not heard of any kidnapping cases reported whether in the media or by word of mouth except for that video that went viral," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a media briefing.

Makati Mayor Abby Binay echoed this, and also ordered increased police patrol in the city and called for public vigilance.

A Chinese woman was abducted around 9 p.m. Monday in the business district of Makati. She was forced by three unidentified Chinese men into a van on Paseo de Roxas corner Nieva Street, police said.

With the incident happening in a populated area, several netizens raised worries about their safety. Panelo reminded the public to remain on alert at all times.

PMaj Gideon Ines, Makati Police Investigating Unit chief, said the suspects tailed and observed the Chinese woman, who was abducted near her condominium.

Documents, such as passports, IDs, and deed of sale for a vehicle, were recovered from the crime scene. Police said one of the men, identified as Chen Tangbin, is in the documents was the victim's husband.

Police have ruled out the possibility of kidnap-for-ransom, but are now considering the possibility the woman's abduction may be related to debt.

"'Yung asawa niya siguro ay ginagamit para makapaningil ng kung may utang siya o kung anumanng ano," Ines said.

[Translation: Maybe his wife is being used so they can be forced to pay their debt or whatever.]

Makati police initially suspected that the woman's abduction may be related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs), as there have been previous cases where these gambling firms run after their former employees who stole data.

Makati City announced a temporary stop to the acceptance of new application for POGO service providers a day before the incident in a bid to curb criminality and prostitution.

"It's not that these POGO companies are bringing in these themselves. It's just that there are elements outside who are taking advantage of the employees working in this industry and exploiting this opporunity for their own," Makati City legal officer Michael Camina said.

Aside from the Makati police, the Philippine National Police's anti-kidnapping unit will conduct a separate investigation.