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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Central Luzon police chief under probe for possible POGO links

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Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Rommel Francisco Marbil said on Monday that he placed the PNP Central Luzon Regional Director, Police Brigadier General Jose Hidalgo Jr., under  investigation due to the discovery of the illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hubs in Bamban, Tarlac and Porac, Pampanga.

“We are also investigating the regional director on the reports thatwere not acted upon properly. We put accountability there on the regional  directors,” General Marbil said at a press briefing.

Marbil had earlier warned cops they will face disciplinary actions if found to be involved in the operations of illegal POGOs.

“This policy serves as a reminder: engage in illegal activities, and you will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

But Marbil said he will not go as far as saying that policemen have been found to be “protectors” of illegal POGOs. He said concerned police officials have been relieved from their posts due to lack of action.

“I don’t want to say protector because there really is no protector.

We have our integrity monitoring group that is checking on our peopleand I guess what we are chasing is the inefficiency of our officers,” Marbil said.

In the POGO hub in Porac, police and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) had found items used for torture, and some devices used for cloning SIM cards and for sending out text blasts.

Meanwhile, six Chinese POGO workers from the raided hub in Bamban, Tarlac were found to be fugitives facing charges in their country.

The Chinese had warrants of arrest for fraud, operating gambling dens and other crimes.

Lucky South 99 Corp. , the operator of the POGOI hub, has rejected the allegations made by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) claiming that the company was conducting business illegally.

Jovito Barte, the company’s lawyer, stated that the firm originally held a probationary license approved by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). However, the same government agency revoked the license on May 22.

The PAOCC conducted a raid on the LS99 compound in Porac, Pampanga, on June 3, more than a week after the license was revoked.

Barte clarified that while it was true that the company no longer had a license, it was inaccurate to declare that it was operating illegally. He mentioned that the company had completely ceased all operations by that time and was in the process of winding down its affairs when the raid occurred.

LS99 had 7,000 employees, with the majority being foreigners, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians, and individuals from other nationalities. Only 1,200 employees were Filipino, working as guards and maids.

To date, LS99 has paid Pagcor $300 million for the privilege of operating as an internet gaming company.

The company’s assets, including the 46 buildings in the compound, as well as the computers, cellphones, and other equipment, are valued at least at P600 million.

Meanwhile, a manager of the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Porac, Pampanga was prevented from leaving the country, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) said Monday.

PAOCC spokesperson Dr. Winston Casio said the manager was offloaded on Sunday in Davao.

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