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Philippine senator calls for POGO ban due to fugitive concerns

The Philippine Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros is urging for an immediate halt to the operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) within the country, citing concerns that human trafficking is intertwined with its business operations.

According to the Philippine News Agency, during her inspection on Wednesday, together with Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Hontiveros visited a POGO firm in Bamban, Tarlac, which had been raided for human trafficking and illegal detention.

She stated that scammer syndicates exploit POGO operations, using them as a legal facade. Even though POGOs are legal, their presence “never made the Philippines any better,” she claims.

During the inspection, the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission briefed the senators that six Chinese fugitives engaged in love scams and cryptocurrency investment scams were discovered on the premises.

Additionally, phones suspended on metal racks were uncovered, along with numerous SIM cards, likely utilized in carrying out fraudulent transactions.

Senator Hontiveros observed that the purported POGO hub in Bamban, resembling other raided scam facilities, featured offices equipped with computer workstations along with instructional materials and scripts utilized in love scams and crypto schemes.

On Tuesday, the official submitted Senate Resolution No. 1001, urging an investigation into foreigners obtaining Filipino citizenship through falsified documents.

The resolution referenced findings from the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, highlighting the abuse of the Visa Upon Arrival scheme by Chinese POGO workers seeking unchecked entry into the Philippines.

The Senate is divided over support for gaming operations, in particular online, given the spate of recent incidents. However, PAGCOR and gaming-supporting officials have recently highlighted the efforts to crack down on bad actors and clean up the industry, noting its strong economic contribution and job creation.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.



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