Senator Win Gatchalian filed a resolution seeking to investigate the rising involvement of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and accredited service providers in various crimes, including human trafficking and kidnap-for ransom, despite efforts by authorities to arrest such incidents.
“The increase in POGO-related crimes necessitates a close review of the country’s POGO policies and assess whether the economic benefits still outweigh the social costs related to the incidents involving POGO companies and their accredited service providers,” Gatchalian said, as he filed Senate Resolution No. 679.
“The chief of the Philippine National Police even commented that there is a possibility that there may be some more foreign fugitives employed in POGO-related operations with practice or modus operandi of hiding in POGO hubs,” he added.
Under the resolution, Gatchalian noted that the entanglement of POGOs in crimes has remained unabated and there is a need to review the power of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to regulate the industry as well as the capability of other law enforcement agencies to abate the commission of POGO-related crimes in the country.
According to Gatchalian, there is a dire need to take immediate action against the criminal incidents associated with POGOs. Failing to address these issues would not only greatly harm the people, but also constitute a neglect of duty towards international treaties and conventions that the Philippines has signed or joined.
Gatchalian is referring to the raid conducted on June 26 on the premises of Xinchuang Network Technology, Inc. in Las Pinas City, which led to the rescue of 2,724 alleged victims of human trafficking, 1,524 of them are Filipinos. Gatchalian noted that Xinchuang has already been involved in December 2021 in a serious illegal detention case in Tambo, Paranaque City.
He cited another police raid that was also conducted at a POGO hub in Clark Sun Valley in Pampanga in early May resulting in the rescue of 1,090 human trafficking victims. Additionally, on June 27, an entrapment operation led to the arrest of three Chinese nationals, some of whom were former POGO employees, for their involvement in torture, kidnap-for-ransom, and illegal possession of firearms.
“Ang patuloy na operasyon ng mga negosyong may kinalaman sa POGO, na talamak na naghahasik ng krimen, ay paglapastangan sa ating mga batas at nagdudulot ng masamang reputasyon sa bansa,” Gatchalian concluded.