Gatchalian warned of POGO-related crime surge

<p>Senator Sherwin Gatchalian <em>(File photo) </em></p>

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (File photo) 

MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday said Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO)-related criminal activities are likely to escalate unless the industry is expunged permanently from the country.

Gatchalian emphasized that criminal activities involving POGOs are likely to worsen if the POGO industry is allowed to continue operating in the country.

"As much as we dread that situation, that possibility is not difficult to imagine. This should prompt all of us to take a stand against POGOs," he said.

Citing reports from the Philippine National Police, Gatchalian said a total of 4,355 individuals fell victim to POGO-related crimes from January 2017 to June 30 of this year, involving 903 perpetrators.

The POGO-related crimes include human trafficking, forcible abduction, homicide, illegal detention, kidnap-for-ransom, theft, robbery-extortion, serious physical injuries, swindling, and grave coercion, among others.

In a statement, Gatchalian said Chinese nationals have a total of 793 accounts for the majority of the suspects involved in these crimes,

He said he has filed a resolution to investigate the growing involvement of POGOs and accredited service providers.

Recently, police authorities recovered 28,000 registered SIM cards at a POGO facility in Pasay City allegedly involved in online scams and the confiscation of registered SIM cards indicates that POGOs are heavily entrenched in online scams, possibly victimizing hapless individuals both here and abroad.

A June 26 raid on the premises of Xinchuang Network Technology, Inc. in Las Piñas City led to the rescue of 2,724 individuals victimized by human trafficking and online scams.

A separate raid in early May at a POGO hub in Clark Sun Valley in Pampanga resulted in the rescue of 1,090 victims of human trafficking and online scams.

Also, a separate entrapment operation on June 27 in Pasay City led to the apprehension of three Chinese nationals for their participation in torture, kidnap-for-ransom, and illegal possession of firearms. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)