Senator Win Gatchalian said the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) support for the expulsion of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from the country underscores the urgency for the government to address the issue.
“This is one compelling factor that is hard to ignore. This only goes to show that the particular course of action of terminating POGO operations is imperative,” Gatchalian said.
At a recent Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and its attached agencies, PNP Chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda expressed his support for the termination of POGO operations in the country.
“Based on crimes being reported, the crime statistics are alarming to my appreciation. It should be properly regulated and monitored. Kung hindi naman talaga properly regulated and monitored, mas magandang wala na,” Acorda said, as he noted that while the number of crimes attributed to POGOs has been decreasing, the number of victims has increased exponentially.
According to PNP data, there were a total of 4,039 victims in 4 POGO-related crimes in the first six months of the year. In comparison, there were only 128 victims in 39 reported crimes in 2022. “There are fewer crimes but the intensity of the crime is much greater now. We are talking about thousands of human trafficking victims being rescued and who were forced into scamming activities. The level, intensity, and magnitude of these crimes are significant just this year alone,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Acorda mentioned that the PNP has been intensifying its capacity-building efforts for police authorities to combat the rising cybercrime activities associated with POGOs. “Admittedly, there is an alarming increase in incidents, especially in cybercrimes. That’s why we are intensifying training, and capacitating local police through the anti-cybercrime group,” the PNP Chief said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Gatchalian has been pressing for the expulsion of POGO operators in the country, citing rising criminal activities attributed to the industry including human trafficking, forcible abduction, homicide, illegal detention, kidnapping-for-ransom, theft, robbery-extortion, serious physical injuries, swindling, grave coercion, investment scam, cryptocurrency scam, and love scam.
“Nakakabahala. It’s really bringing international shame to our country as the victims come from different countries. The burden and pressure on the police to arrest and stop these crimes is getting heavy and the attention being diverted to this industry is depriving attention to other sectors. POGO has no place in our country, just looking at the statistics alone. If we want a peaceful country, then POGOs should not remain in our country any longer,” Gatchalian concluded.