Majority of the crimes related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) involved human trafficking cases which is an indication that organized criminal groups tied to the industry may be operating in the country, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
“This is concerning and alarming and can have serious implications on the country’s national security,” he stressed.
A letter sent by the National Bureau of Investigation to the Senator containing the summary of POGO-related cases handled by the Investigation Service shows that POGO-related crimes have totaled 113 from November 2019 to March 2023. The March 23, 2023 letter was signed by Atty. Medardo De Lemos, NBI Director.
Based on the data provided by the NBI, a total of 65 or 58% of the total number of cases involved human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that exploits the most vulnerable in our communities and the data from the NBI shows that some POGO operators are into human trafficking too. We cannot allow such horrific crimes to happen in our country,” Gatchalian emphasized.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Gatchalian spearheaded an inquiry into the socio-economic benefits of maintaining POGO operations in the country following numerous reports of crime attributed to the industry.
Following several public hearings, Gatchalian called for the immediate closure of POGOs in the country in a bid to help maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth. He made the call in a Chairman’s Report which was later on submitted to the Office of the President.
Aside from the 65 cases of human trafficking, the NBI report also shows there were 33 cases of international operations that were investigated, 7 cases of cybercrimes, 4 anti-organized and transnational crimes, 3 cases of fraud, and one case of anti-violence against women and children – all related to POGO.