THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) led on Saturday, September 17, 2022, the closure of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo) facility in Angeles, Pampanga, which is allegedly involved in the trafficking of Chinese nationals.

Together with operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and members of the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. posted a notice of closure on the door of Lucky 99 South Outsourcing Corp. after it was found to be operating without necessary licenses and permits.

“How could you operate habang wala kang lisensya ng ilang taon? So doon palang, ilegal na,” said Abalos.

(How could you operate without a license for several years? From that fact alone, it's already illegal.)

On Wednesday, September 14, a total of 42 Chinese nationals who were allegedly being illegally detained by the said company were rescued from the said facility.

The company’s human resource manager Chen Yi Bien was arrested during the operation.

Abalos said they also chanced upon 240 more Chinese nationals, who were “undocumented” and without passports, during Saturday’s operation.

“In the meantime, tinutugis ng ating mga kapulisan ang mga iba pang implicated dito. Of course, tayo to exact accountability is, ginawa natin yung sulat sa Pagcor at sa Securities and Exchange Commission para matukoy natin kung sino talaga dapat managot,” Abalos said.

(In the meantime, our police are pursuing the others implicated in this. Of course, we need to know who is accountable for this. We wrote a letter to Pagcor and the Securities and Exchange Commission so that we can determine who really should be responsible.)

“Sisiguruhin natin na lahat sila ay madocument nang maigi ng Bureau of Immigration kasi baka mamaya mabiktima na naman sila. Hindi ito tungkol sa Filipino o Chinese, bawat buhay maprotektahan natin, iyon ang importante dito,” he added.

(We will make sure that all of them are documented thoroughly by the Bureau of Immigration because they might become victims again later. It's not about Filipinos or Chinese, we can protect every life, that's what's important here.)

On Friday, 70 Chinese nationals, 18 Vietnamese, two Taiwanese and a Malaysian who were allegedly being detained inside a Pogo facility in Cainta, Rizal were rescued during an operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) together with the PNP, the Bureau of Immigration and members of the Chinese embassy.

The operation, according to Assistant Director for Investigative Service Jose Doloiras, was conducted following the request of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines on the basis of kidnapping and illegal detention concerns.

Philippine authorities are conducting a series of operations against Pogos in the country following the spike in kidnapping incidents involving Chinese nationals, particularly those involved in Pogo.

Abalos sought the public’s participation to stop such criminal activities. (SunStar Philippines)