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POGO hub in Pampanga caught in illegal activities including sex trafficking, kidnapping

In recent years, Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator, or POGO, has become prominent in the Philippines.

In the latest “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” episode, more or less 200 POGO businesses were revealed to be located in the Philippines, but only 60 of them have a license to operate.

To investigate the current situation, Jessica Soho traveled all the way to Porac, Pampanga to visit what is dubbed as the ‘most notorious illegal POGO scam farm’ in the country. 

Just recently, a POGO hub located in Porac, Pampanga, was raided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) after a video of a man being hit repeatedly by a metal was sent to them. 

Another video they acquired was of a woman, whose face was covered, being hit multiple times.

Later on, the authorities found out that the location of the victims was the 10-hectare compound of a POGO hub owned by Lucky South 99 in Pampanga.

“’Yung iba kasi na-rescue na naming, ‘yung iba na patakas na sila eh,” a PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said.

[“We were able to rescue some of them. But the others have managed to escape.”]

“Nu’ng ise-serve kasi namin ang warrant biglang nagtakbuhan tapos ‘yung nasalubong na lang namin ‘yun ang nakuha,” he added.

[““When we were about to serve the arrest warrant, the people tried to escape. We only caught those we encountered.”]

The authorities rescued 159 foreign nationals and 39 Filipinos. Their target was 1,000.

After the raid, the authorities said the POGO people left behind their detained employees that they were physically torturing.

A few hours after the raid, a man handcuffed to the bed shouted for help. He was seen with a black eye and with bruises in the arm and back.

Another detained employee in the Porac hub was a Chinese man named “Peter” who was locked in a room for 10 days.

In an exclusive interview with Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s team, “Peter” said he left his job in China because a friend told him that he would earn more in the Philippines.

But “Peter” didn’t receive a salary but was instead harmed by his fellow Chinese workers.

“Nu’ng una grabe ‘yung pambubugbog, hindi na nga ako makalakad nu’n. Natakot at masakit.

Ramdam ko nga na mamamatay na ako nu’n,” Peter said.

[“The beating got so bad I couldn’t even walk. I thought I was going to die."]

The PAOCC also found out that the POGO hub was also a nest for sex trafficking. The authorities acquired a sensitive video of two naked foreigners dancing while they were being sold online.

According to the PAOCC authority, some detained employees in the POGO hub were those who didn’t reach their quota, which resulted in physical violence.

“Kapag ikaw ang foreign national nagsugal ka sa mga casinos dito, hindi ka makapagbayad ibebenta ka po nila sa mga scam farms na mga ‘yun,” PAOCC Spokesperson Winston John Casio said

["If you’re a foreign national who gambled in the casinos here and are unable to pay, they’d sell you to those scam farms.”]

According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, POGO operations began in the Philippines in 2003 and it was regulated during the Duterte administration.

“They provide employment, halimbawa ‘yung mga shuttle nila may mga drivers ‘yan, may mga food providers ‘yan, may mga nagpapa-rent ng mga bahay,” PAGCOR AVP for External Communication Catalino Alano Jr. said.

[“POGO operations provide employment for many people. Some rent out houses, while others work as drivers or food providers.”]

“And then, may mga call centers tayo that cater to them so ang employed n’yan mga Pilipino na,” he added.

[“There are also call centers that cater to them, employing Filipino workers.”]

For Senator Risa Hontiveros,  POGO businesses in the Philippines have a negative impact on the country. 

“Ang laki nga ng pagkakautang ng mga POGO sa ating bansa in the form of taxes,” she said.

["The POGOs owe our country a substantial amount in taxes."]

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also shared the same sentiment with Hontiveros.

“Actually, walang pro, puro con siya dahil nga itong POGO ang dinadala dito krimen, human trafficking, prostitution,” he said. “Nakikipag-alyansa na sila sa mga local criminal syndicates.”

[“There’s nothing good about POGO businesses in the country. They bring crime, human trafficking, and prostitution because they’re linked to local criminal syndicates.“."]

—MGP, GMA Integrated News