Gatchalian seeks suspension of Porac mayor

MANILA. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian inspects the Lucky South 99 compound in Porac, Pampanga on Monday, June 24, 2024.
MANILA. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian inspects the Lucky South 99 compound in Porac, Pampanga on Monday, June 24, 2024.Photo from Senator Sherwin Gatchalian's Facebook post

PORAC, Pampanga Mayor Jaime Capil must be suspended by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) amid the ongoing investigation on the “most brutal and violent and the biggest” Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo) that was ever discovered by authorities.

This was the recommendation made by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday, June 24, 2024, as he inspected the Lucky South 99 compound in Porac. He expressed disbelief that the local government unit (LGU) seemed “clueless” on the illegal activities inside the 10-heactare property consisting of 46 buildings and other facilities including a golf course.

"Unang tanong ko paano nakalusot sa LGU at barangay. Ang mayor may malawak na kapangyarihan. Hindi puwedeng alisin ng LGU ang kanilang accountability lalo na sa ganitong scheme dahil 2,000 dayuhan ang pumapasok at lumalabas sa lugar, dapat nagdududa ka na," Gatchalian said.

(My first question is how did the LGU and barangay escaped from this. The mayor has broad powers. The LGU can't abdicate their accountability especially with this scheme because 2,000 foreigners are coming in and out of the area, you must be questioning such scheme.)

"Dapat ma-suspend siya... We have to bring it to the Ombudsman and ako ang recommendation ko tingnan na rin ang accountability ng mayor sa Porac dahil nakikita natin merong negligence dahil pinabayaan niyang mangyari ito sa kanyang lugar. Kung naging proactive siya dapat hindi na umabot sa ganito kalaki," he added.

(He should be suspended... We have to bring it to the Ombudsman and my recommendation is to look at the accountability of the mayor in Porac because we see there is negligence because he let this happen in his area. If he had been proactive, it shouldn't have gotten this big.)

Gatchalian said he would push for the conduct of a Senate inquiry into the Porac Pogo hub to identify the accountability of concerned government agency, including the LGU, as well as of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), among others.

He renewed his call to ban Pogo operations in the country.

On June 5, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) together with the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) raided Lucky South 99, which was shut down by DILG Secretary Benhur Abalos in September 2022 over alleged involvement in illegal activities.

At least 186 foreign and Filipino workers were apprehended from the Pogo complex, including at least four individuals who were identified as kidnap victims. Two of them were still handcuffed and full of bruises and torture marks when found by the police.

The PAOCC said they also found a cellphone containing videos of women who were being sold online for sexual services through bidding.

Chinese military uniform sets, sex toys, and animals were also seized during the raid.

As reported, Capil signed the 2019 Mayor’s permit and 2019 municipal resolution of notice of no objection used to apply for the Pogo firm’s license, permit, and franchise in 2019.

Capil earlier denied knowledge of the ongoing illegal operations of the said Pogo firm in his jurisdiction.

Abalos earlier said the Provincial Government of Pampanga is already looking into the possible accountability of local government officials of Porac.

Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo was earlier suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman over the charges of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service filed by the DILG over her alleged link to the Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated (ZYTI), a Pogo firm that was raided by the police in March. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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