Taiwanese POGO employee seeks help after alleged abuse from Chinese employer

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 12, 2020   •   473

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)

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)

BI intercepts suspected human trafficking victim at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday said its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have rescued a suspected human trafficking victim attempting to depart the country.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the female passenger was intercepted at the NAIA Terminal 1 on March 6 while she was attempting to board a flight to Singapore.  

Morente said the victim, whose name was withheld for her protection, was initially referred for verification to the on-duty immigration supervisor, as she attempted to enter the airport departure area.

“The supervisor noticed that the stamps on the passenger’s passport and boarding pass were spurious. Upon further verification, they have discovered that the stamp used was not a registered stamp,” he said.

The passenger later confessed that she did not undergo immigration inspection, and that she was intending to travel to Dubai for work under a job application with a certain agent named “Rency”.

“She was instructed to meet the agent at a fast food chain in the airport’s departure area. The agent got a hold of her passport and boarding pass, and gave them back to her with fake stamps,” BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said.

Manahan added that human traffickers would affix fake stamps in the passengers’ passports and boarding passes, so that their victims, when asked by authorities, could pretend they have already undergone the required immigration departure formalities.

“Since human traffickers could not provide the passengers with proper documents to work abroad, this is their cheap attempt to get their victims to evade immigration inspection,” he said.

The victim has been endorsed to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking for proper assistance in filing a criminal complaint against her recruiter, the BI said.

The bureau also reiterated its advise for the public to only transact with registered and licensed recruitment agencies to avoid falling prey to illegal recruiters.

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)

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