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POGO shutdown sought anew amid Chinese kidnapping

The recent kidnapping of a Chinese national whose finger was cut off prompted renewed calls for the shutdown of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country.

According to a "24 Oras" report by Jun Veneracion on Thursday, authorities found out that the victim who was held by three Chinese nationals recently arrested for kidnapping was a POGO manager.

Authorities are still looking for at least 25 suspects, including five Filipinos.

"Foreign kidnap syndicates have become bolder and more brutal because of the aid of cohorts and poor monitoring by authorities," Senator Grace Poe said.

Poe added that urgent action is needed, saying it is apparent that the alleged unceasing kidnapping of Chinese nationals is a law enforcement problem.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said she would continue her call to stop the operation of POGOs in the country.

"I will continue to call on the Senate to expel POGOs from the country. The entire industry is a threat to our national security and to our people," Hontiveros said.

The calls were supported by the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, which said that POGOs paved the way for international syndicates to enter the country.

"Cambodia and Laos had a big crackdown against POGO that's why they ran here so why is our country a safe haven for criminals and transnational syndicates like that? Where is the failure coming from?” said Teresita Ang-See, founding chairperson of the group.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) maintained it is continuously pursuing individuals involved POGO-related crimes.

"We continue to strengthen our efforts and our campaign to capture international criminals. The Philippines will never be a safe haven for international criminals," said Police Brigadier General Redrico Maranan of the PNP public information office.

The PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) said it will start distributing posters in buildings with POGO workers to inform them on how to report cases of kidnapping.—Jamil Santos/LDF, GMA Integrated News