Over 300 illegal Chinese workers arrested in Quezon City

Robie de Guzman   •   December 20, 2019   •   202

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has apprehended more than 300 foreign nationals in a massive raid of an online gaming company on Thursday night.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement the operation, jointly conducted by the bureau and the Quezon City Police District yielded the arrest of a total of 342 foreigners working without proper permits and visas at a building in Barangay Bago Bantay.

The illegal aliens, all Chinese nationals, were reportedly working for a licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) that was not yet allowed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to operate.

“We sought the assistance of PAGCOR in confirming their permit, and we found out that the company was duly licensed, but was not yet allowed to operate,” BI Intelligence Division chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said.

Thousands of mobile phones that suspects were allegedly using for online and phone scamming were also recovered from the raided offices.

Manahan also said the company used several names, prompting suspicion that it may be a front for other unscrupulous activities.

“We had reason to suspect that the company is a front for illegal cyber activities and investment scams,” he said.

“We coordinated this operation with the Chinese government, which confirmed the company’s involvement in illegal activities, victimizing mostly their compatriots in China,” he added.

The BI said the arrested Chinese nationals were tagged as fugitives after the Chinese government canceled their passports.

The Chinese government has likewise reportedly canceled the passports of those involved, making them undocumented aliens and tagging them as fugitives.

The suspects are currently detained in a temporary holding facility in Camp Caringal, Quezon City pending their deportation.

Duterte rejects calls to shut down POGOs operations for now

Robie de Guzman   •   March 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte stood by his decision not to shut down Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) despite calls from lawmakers following the alleged influx of dirty money into the country through the online gambling industry.

On Tuesday, Duterte said that POGO operations are clean and generate huge revenues for the government.

“I will assure you under my oath of office as President of this Republic, as elected by you, ‘yang POGO na ‘yan, in so far kami dito, malinis ‘yan,” he said in a speech during an assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Pasay City.

Duterte made the statement following allegations that POGO’s operations in the country have spawned irregularities and increase in crime rates involving its workers, particularly Chinese nationals.

Some immigration officers were also accused of receiving pay-offs to facilitate the entry of fugitives and offshore gaming operations workers from China.

The latest controversy linking the offshore gaming hub was the alleged inflow of dirty money from abroad, which land in casinos and banks in the country. Some senators have alleged that this has become possible due to the proliferation of POGOs in the country.

Duterte, however, said everything that the government earns from POGOs goes to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and that the industry has generated thousands of local jobs for Filipinos.

“Laro ‘yan para lang sa kabila. But it employs something like 20,000 dito sa Maynila. Dito lang ‘yang POGO eh. Walang pera diyan. Diretso sa PAGCOR ‘yan,” he added.

The chief executive also insisted that there is no corruption in its operations, as it is monitored by the PAGCOR.

He also said the government gets P2 billion worth of revenues from the industry each month which can be used to fund government infrastructure projects and other programs. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gordon reveals he was offered P25-M bribe to stop POGO money laundering probe

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 10, 2020

Senator Richard Gordon revealed Tuesday (March 10) that someone attempted to bribe him with P25 million so he would drop the investigation on the alleged money laundering through the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).

Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said a friend told him that a certain Rodriguez group allegedly offered a donation worth P5 million to the Philippine Red Cross.

They also offered to give the senator P20 million just to stop the public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged money laundering through POGO.

“Sabi ko, hindi ko ginagawa iyan, (I told them I don’t do that)” Gordon said during an interview with reporters. “I am chagrined. Ang lalakas ng loob ng mga ito na akala nila lahat kaya nilang bilhin (They are very confident to think that they can buy everything).”

The senator also said the bribery attempt only showed that the said family may have been involved in illegal activities.

Gordon added that bulks of money continue to enter the country. He reported that USD 500 million reportedly entered the country on Tuesday (March 10).

Meanwhile, Gordon reiterated they will continue the investigation on the money laundering allegations on Thursday (March 12).—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Taiwanese POGO employee seeks help after alleged abuse from Chinese employer

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020

A Taiwanese national claims she was a victim of human trafficking after she was forced to work at a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) company.

Twenty-three- year-old Taiwanese national Lai Yu Cian or Ivy is seeking help after she was allegedly trafficked into the Philippines. She also reported suffering abuse from her Chinese employer.

“They want me to work for 24 hours, treating me like a slave. I already told them [employers] I want to go home. I want to go back to Taiwan. But they forced me to work for them,” she said.

Ivy said the company took her passport. She also added that her employer sexually assaulted her and threatened her if she sought help from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Ivy also revealed that her Chinese employer has a protector from the government and that she would sometimes hear the name ‘Michael Yang’.

“They always say that they have a protector behind them who is government people,” she said.

“I heard about once or twice when my supervisor got mad at me, they mentioned Michael Yang. He didn’t explain to me. He just shouts that at me,” Ivy added.

According to Senator Risa Hontiveros, they still haven’t verified if the “Michael Yang” identified by Ivy is the former economic adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Right now our main concern is the humanitarian aspect. We haven’t gone to the checking of identities,” she said.

Ivy is among the 30 other Asian nationals who were rescued in Mandaluyong last February 3.

Senator Joel Villanueva previously said that he is seeking the temporary suspension of POGO operations in the country due to the increasing number of illegal POGO workers.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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