POGO security guard arrested for involvement in kidnapping of 2 Chinese nationals

Maris Federez   •   December 10, 2019   •   730

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) on Tuesday (Dec. 10) arrested a Filipino security guard involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese nationals in Las Piñas City.

The suspect, named Saturnino Matias, is a security guard in a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) where the mastermind of the kidnapping identified as Michael Chan is purportedly working.

Authorities found out about the kidnapping incident when another Chinese national who had also been abducted was eventually released after paying a ransom of 30,000 Renminbi or an equivalent of over Php 200,000.

The police, however, are looking into robbery as a motive for the alleged kidnapping of the two Chinese nationals.

“According sa interview dun sa dalawang victim natin, naglalakad lang sila sa along Alabang nung November 26. So bale, seven days na silang naka-stay dun sa room na ‘yun […] Allegedly, may utang itong dalawa na ‘to. Nagnakaw daw sila,” PNP-AKG spokesperson PLtCol. Joel Saliba  said.

The suspect, meanwhile, denied knowing that the two Chinese nationals he was guarding were victims of kidnap-for-ransom.

“Inosente po ako. Wala po akong alam diyan kasi Chinese po ang usapan nila, nagtatawanan pa sila eh. Hindi ko alam na ganito pala ‘yun,” Matias said.

He will be charged with kidnapping for ransom with serious illegal detention.

The AKG said the two are now added to the six POGO-related kidnapping cases recorded this year.

Meanwhile, the PNP-AKG will conduct a separate investigation on the alleged abduction of a female Chinese national in Makati on Monday (Dec. 9) night.

The AKG said they have not received any complaint from the relatives of the victim who the Makati City Police said is also an employee of a POGO company.

Police are also looking into unpaid loans as an angle on the case.

Former PNP chief Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa said authorities had been receiving reports of kidnapping incidents involving Chinese nationals even during his time.

He said the presence of POGOs in the country must not be singled out as the reason behind these incidents.

He added that even if Filipinos are not involved, authorities must still act on these cases.

“Kung yan ay kidnapping for ransom na victimizing wealthy Filipino businessmen or kahit sinong ordinaryong Pilipino […] cause of concern yan ng lahat ng mga Pilipino dito. Pero sila sila mga Intsik nagkikidnapan. Meron bang Pilipinong kinidnap ng Chinese? Wala pa naman. But still, it’s not a crime and should be stopped,” Dela Rosa said. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

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 on money laundering issue: ‘Mr. President, you are being misled by your people’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 10, 2020

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Senator Richard Gordon believes that President Rodrigo Duterte is being “misled by his own people” regarding the alleged money laundering in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Corporation (POGO).

“Mr. President, you are being misled by your people. You better check. You’re a lawyer as well, most respectfully,” he said.

On Monday evening (March 9), Duterte said he was not convinced with the money laundering allegations against POGO operations in the country.

“I wish the President wouldn’t make remarks like that especially since a co-equal branch of government is investigating a very, very serious situation where hundreds of millions of dollars are coming into our country,” Gordon said.

According to Gordon, the President should listen to the Senate because of the clear evidence collected from their investigations.

During the Senate hearing last week, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) revealed that P14 billion out of the P54 billion worth of POGO transactions from 2017 to 2019 were linked to “suspicious activities.” —AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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)

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