Senator Win Gatchalian said the government now has a stronger case to expel Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from the country following a revelation that a licensed POGO company has been double-dealing for criminal activities that include human trafficking and crypto-currency scams.
“To be honest about it, this brings international shame to us. The Philippines is becoming a scam hub and POGOs are being used as a front for criminal activities including human trafficking,” Gatchalian said, referring to a human trafficking case recently uncovered at a POGO hub in Clark, Pampanga.
The incident pertains to the rescue of more than one thousand foreign nationals who turned out to be victims of human trafficking rescued from where CGC Technologies, Inc. a licensed POGO service provider, has been operating. Based on records provided by the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), CGC Technologies is a sub-lessee of Sun Valley Clark Corporation, the compound where CGC Tech has been leasing. The two entities share common company executives.
“Our resolve to ban POGO operations in the country has become greater now that we have established the fact that the industry is being used as a front for nefarious activities undertaken by organized criminal groups,” he emphasized.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Gatchalian earlier called for the immediate closure of POGOs in the country in a bid to maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth in the country. He also cited a National Bureau of Investigation report that most crimes attributed to POGOs involve human trafficking cases.
During a Senate hearing conducted on the human trafficking incident in Clark, it was revealed that the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has been using the concept of establishing a POGO hub in a bid to confine their activities in a specific location.
Under PAGCOR rules, the hub should include satellite offices of law enforcement agencies involved in POGO operation including the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Labor and Employment, and police authorities, among others.
Gatchalian noted, however, that PAGCOR has failed to enforce such a rule at the POGO hub in Clark, which is one of 2 hubs so far authorized by the agency. By contrast, the POGO hub design in Clark enabled perpetrators to effectively isolate their human trafficking victims, who were forced to engage in cryptocurrency and love scams victimizing primarily US residents, he noted.
“Malinaw na hindi napipigilan ng PAGCOR ang mga maling gawain ng mga POGO at habang nananatili sa bansa ang mga POGO hindi malayong dumami pa ang mga krimen na kasasangkutan nila,” he added.