After Saudi Arabia Ambassador Abdullah Al-Hassan cried foul over recurring extortion cases, Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada ordered the investigation of corrupt policemen who harass foreign tourists in the capital, specifically Saudi nationals.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia said that the modus operandi of suspected police perpetrators is to “prey on tourists in trouble or in dire circumstance.”
Police authorities will come for assistance “surprisingly and unexpectedly soon enough and do their turn to arrest their targeted victim,” according to a statement released by the Saudi Embassy.
During the interrogation, the police would ask a “huge amount of money,” anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in exchange for their release.
The latest incident as reported in the Embassy’s letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs last January 8 was the arrest of two Saudi nationals on “spurious criminal accusations” and who were asked to pay a huge amount of money for their release.
In September last year, a similar incident happened when two Saudi nationals rushed their household helper to the Makati Medical Center when the maid fell unconscious. A group of policemen arrested the Saudi nationals “without any legal reasons” according to their report.
The police initially asked for P200,000 but agreed to P70,000 after negotiations.
When the domestic helper recovered, she declined to file a case and “proved that the policemen were scalawags just out to victimize foreign tourists” according to the letter sent by the Saudi Embassy last year.
Effect on tourism
Estrada said that the frequent occurrence of extortion operations has an adverse effect on tourism in Manila, which is trying to recover from the weakening in its tourism industry.
Likewise, the Saudi embassy said that it will adversely affect the Philippine tourism industry in general and “blemish the Philippine’s image.”
If police extortions will continue, it will “create undesirable impression on those who intend to visit the Philippines” and will prompt visitors to “change their routes on other tourist destinations in the neighboring country,” the Saudi embassy warned.
Last year, the Department of Tourism called the attention of the Philippine National Police regarding the issue of police extortion of foreign tourists especially precincts where police extortions were mostly reported like the police precinct in Burgos St, Makati; Makati City Police Headquarters; and Police Precinct No. 5 in Malate, Manila.