MANILA - (UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday issued a stern warning against police officers who would be spotted near casinos in Metro Manila even if they are not assigned there.
In a speech, Duterte even singled out Okada Manila in Parañaque City, saying it is teeming with usurers and kidnappers.
“I’d like to announce, lahat kayong mga pulis umalis kayo diyan (all of you police officers, get away from there). It’s crawling with usurers, kidnappers. So ako ang magdaan diyan, ‘pag nakita ko kayo p**, sagasaan ko kayo (If I pass by there and see you, I will run you over),” Duterte said in a speech in Tanza, Cavite during the inauguration of the Cavite Gateway Terminal, the country’s first and only barge port.
Okada Manila said they support the President's call for vigilance against erring members of the police force.
"Management will cooperate and coordinate with the proper authorities on this matter. The safety and welfare of our guests will always be our utmost priority," the hotel and casino resort said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear what incident triggered Duterte’s fury over the presence of police officers in the area, but he again cited allegedly rampant criminal activities in casinos and hotels, supposedly perpetrated by loan sharks against gamblers who could not pay their debt.
The President said he would immediately fire any police officer caught roaming near casinos.
“Iyang sugalan diyan, nandiyan ‘yung lahat ng (In those gambling places, you will find all) --- the low life of society. Mag-kidnap, diyan lang sa kwarto (They will kidnap someone and take them to a room) then they start to negotiate. Pagkatapos magbayad, maglabas sa kuwarto patayin pa ‘yung tao (After getting paid, they leave the room and still kill the victim). And what are the policemen doing there? What’s your business?” Duterte said.
Duterte is referring to cases where loan sharks kidnap casino players who could not pay their debt. Several incidents have been recorded involving kidnappers and victims of various nationalities.
“If you violate my order, I will dismiss you from the service. That’s an order because you are there to commit a crime. Kung wala kayong (If you have no business)--- you are not assigned there. Or I will assign the Army to patrol. Which do you want? Magbarilan kayo o sumunod kayo (A firefight or you obey)?”
“One more policeman there... and I will call the Rangers to come down and patrol the whole of Dewey Boulevard,” the President added, referring to the old name of Roxas Boulevard, where many of the country’s major casinos are located or close by.
Duterte has repeatedly aired his aversion towards high-stakes gambling. Earlier this year, he ordered a halt on the entry and creation of new casinos in the country.