'Kidnapper-casino loan sharks' urge DOJ to junk charges

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2017 11:15 PM

Five individuals charged for the kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention of two Koreans and one Chinese urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday to dismiss the complaint, as they maintained their innocence.

In a four-page counter-affidavit, Ernesto Marella, Ferdie Dionisio, Raymond de Guzman, Jomar dela Peña, and Alexander Dionisio said they did not abduct, ask for ransom, nor deprive the alleged victims of their liberty.

The respondents said they could not be held liable for these offenses because they had a standing agreement with complainants and casino players Yeum Sun Ki, Pan Ho Park, and Xia Liu, that in the event they failed to pay their loans, they would “voluntarily stay” with the respondents.

Marella, reportedly a casino lender, submitted the counter-affidavit, which was subsequently adopted by his four co-respondents.

“[W]hat is notably and conveniently not disclosed [by complainants] is that, prior to getting their loans, complainants, who had only their word to offer as collateral, had freely and knowingly executed, by signing and thumb-marking, plainly worded agreements, uniformly declaring as follows: (a) that if they lose, they will ‘voluntarily stay’ with lender until they could pay; and (b) that the agreement is ‘binding," the counter-affidavit read.

Respondents attached the alleged written agreements with Yeum and Pan to the counter-affidavit, while their agreement with Xia allegedly got lost during the police operation.

The complaint, transmitted on behalf of the foreign tourists by the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG), stated that Yeum and Pan reportedly borrowed P600,000 each from Marella, while Xia borrowed P1-million from a fellow Chinese identified only as “Black Man.” 

Xia claimed she was able to pay her debt but was still detained by respondents because her boyfriend, who came to the Philippines to play in casinos with her, still owed ¥6-million.

The complaint said the casino players were taken by respondents at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila: Liu on September 15, Park on October 12, and Yeum on October 16, and then brought to a safehouse in Bulacan.

Marella argued he merely offered free board and lodging to complainants “as they have lost everything to gambling, while they try to work for the payment of their loans by anyone from anywhere who may be willing to help.”

Marella also stressed complainants were not detained “as they were free to go in and out of the Guiguinto House (safehouse) anytime they wanted.”

“The bedrooms of complainants were not locked. The doors of the Guiguinto House were not locked… [Complainants] were never handcuffed or chained... The Guiguinto house was not guarded since I worked almost the whole day every day at Pan Pacific with respondents Alexander Dionisio and Ferdie Dionisio as aides or errand boys, while respondents Raymond de Guzman and Jomar dela Peña worked during daytime as construction workers,” the counter-affidavit read.

These assertions ran counter to the complaint, which state “[A]ll victims were deprived of their liberty and kept at Ilang Ilang St., Guiguinto, Bulacan while the kidnappers were negotiating for their ransom in exchange of their liberty.”

The case has been submitted to the DOJ for resolution.