WHILE the decline in Chinese investments into the Philippines* has obviously been due to the souring of relations between the two countries — what with even our top officials like Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. calling China criminals of international law — another factor has been a rising fear of kidnappings of Chinese citizens in the metropolis.
The Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group has reported that kidnapping cases have drastically decreased in the first half of the year, with only 12 kidnapping incidents, about half of the 22 cases in 2023.
However, sources in the Chinese Filipino community claim that this is grossly under-reported as relatives of Chinese kidnapped are no longer reporting such incidents, whether the victims were killed or were released. “They fear that ranking police officials are involved with the kidnappers, and once they report the kidnapping cases, the criminals are informed of this and they immediately retaliate,” the source said.
What bolsters the claims of an uptick in kidnapping cases are numerous newspaper reports of Chinese found killed and dumped in empty lots, intriguingly in municipalities in Cavite. Out of the dozen reports I found, half were reported as “victims of kidnap-for-ransom” gangs. There were no explanation in the other half on the motive for the killings.
Whether the reports of the rise in kidnappings are true or not, it is the perception of foreign investors that matters. There is a growing perception that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is not on top in terms of leading the police, and that he does not have the likes of Christopher “Bong” Go (ex-president Duterte’s special assistant) and Duterte’s first police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, whom businessmen could approach easily, and who would immediately ensure the kidnapping gangs, were “taken cared” of, swiftly.
An example of a report that has created a perception that the Philippines is a dangerous place for businessmen — no matter how small — is the following published in a popular Chinese online newspaper World News (https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/S_AxCoau7JNE7gA4-SKD6g), which even had a gory photo of the young businessman’s corpse. The October 10 article is titled “Chinese Youth Wen Fuzhi Dies in Philippines,” with the subtitle: “After paying more than 2 million yuan, he was killed by kidnappers.” Following is the report which I asked a friend to translate from Mandarin:
Kidnapping and murder
“(World News) Another kidnapping and murder case involving a Chinese citizen recently occurred in the Philippines. The victim, Wen Fuzhi, was only 25 years old.
According to information revealed by the Philippine National Police and Wen Fuzhi’s parents, Wen Fuzhi and his college roommate came to the Philippines to work on regular work visas in 2018. After the Covid-19 outbreak, they were unable to return to China, so they opened an online store in the Philippines to import and sell e-cigarettes. After several years, the business began to take shape and life stabilized. Wen lived in Makati City.
In the afternoon of Aug. 1, 2023, the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) received a report from a Chinese citizen surnamed Huang, saying that his friend Wen Fuzhi had been kidnapped.
Huang said that he received a call from Wen Fuzhi’s girlfriend on the evening of July 31. The woman surnamed Li, who was in China at the time, said she had lost contact with her boyfriend who told her he was going to Pasay City in Metro Manila to deliver e-cigarettes. After searching, Huang was convinced that Wen Fuzhi and his private car were both missing.
In the morning of August 1, the girlfriend contacted Huang again, saying that she had received a ransom demand from the kidnappers, $600,000, in exchange for the safety of the hostage. Huang then reported the case to the AKG.
Throughout August, Wen Fuzhi’s parents negotiated with the kidnappers while borrowing money to pay for the ransom. The kidnappers agreed to release him on September 3 after receiving the ransom.
On September 9, the victim’s body was found in a bush in Cavite province, with his hands and feet tied behind his back.
The police speculated based on the degree of decomposition of the body that Wen Fuzhi had been killed for 4-5 days, which means that the kidnappers immediately killed the victim after receiving the ransom.
What is even more disgusting is that even when the ransom had been paid and Wen Fuzhi already killed, the kidnappers asked the victim’s family, which was already heavily in debt, to pay another 20,000 yuan for “living expenses.”
Wen Fuzhi’s mother recalled: “The kidnappers told me at the time, ‘We have been taking care of your son for more than a month, do we deserve little more living expenses?’ But after paying the 20,000, they could no longer be contacted.”
The victim’s family is from Hubei province, China.
Wen Fuzhi’s parents are over 50 years old, with dark skin and simple clothes. When they came to the Philippines to assist the Philippine police in identifying the body, they tried their best to control their emotions and did not want to cause trouble to others. It was only when they talked about the last video call with their son (which took place on September 3) that they finally could not suppress their grief and broke down and cried bitterly. When others handed over tissues, they did not forget to say “thank you.”
Wen Fuzhi’s mother said: “We only have one child. We borrowed money from relatives and friends and collected 900,000 (RMB, the same below). The kidnappers took the money in Wen’s bank card and even from e-cigarettes clients, and it was conservatively estimated to be more than 1 million yuan, which adds up to 2 million… but he was still murdered.”
This thin woman said: “We hoped that we could rescue my son by paying the ransom, and then the family of three would work together to pay off the debt… Now my son is gone, our future… no more future.”
Wen Fuzhi’s parents have only one wish now, that is, they hope that the Philippine police can solve the case as soon as possible and punish the kidnappers, so as to comfort their son’s spirit in heaven.
They had negative thoughts, “Life is hopeless anyway,” but they decided to live on, because the legal process in the Philippines may still need them.
They said: “As long as the Philippine police can catch the kidnappers, we will definitely come back to assist in the prosecution and complete the legal process.”
I urge my readers to email me such accounts (if there really are any) so we can put pressure on the government and the police to clamp down on such despicable criminals.
*From China and Hong Kong, $471 million in 2018 to $41 million in 2022; for January to April 2023, $21 million, from $28 million in the same period last year.
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