Senator Gatchalian tells authorities– arrest, jail Chinese syndicates in POGO industry

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Senator Win Gatchalian on Sunday has demanded the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to arrest and jail Chinese syndicates in the country’s Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry who are illegally operating and into criminal activities.

“The PNP, NBI and the BI need to step up their efforts in hunting down these syndicates who are not only into kidnapping activities but at the same time have been operating prostitution dens and many forms of human trafficking. They should go to jail,” said Gatchalian, in a statement on Sunday.

Gatchalian made the call amid reports of kidnapping perpetrated by Chinese  syndicates against their fellow nationals working in the offshore gaming industry.

Gatchalian also said that these foreign criminal groups move towards human trafficking and kidnapping of our fellow Filipinos.

To intensify its crackdown on these criminal groups, the senator proposed  to create an inter-agency task force composed of the PNP, NBI, and BI.

With the help of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), they will unify, synchronize and optimize efforts and resources in the handling, investigation, and prosecution of kidnapping and human trafficking cases in the country.

Gatchalian wants the PNP to intensify its police visibility by conducting regular checkpoints and security patrols around Metro Manila. Most POGO operations are concentrated in the Makati Central Business District, Bonifacio Global City, and the Bay Area in Pasay and Paranaque Cities.

Gatchalian called on the BI to implement stricter immigration monitoring and beef up border security to ward off the entry of illegal foreign traffickers. Border officers should be in close coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and the PNP Maritime Group.

The Senate Labor Committee cited accumulated media reports specifying that there were 634 Chinese fugitives coming from several POGO service providers who were arrested from September 2019 to January 2020.

Most of them were involved in various forms of investment scams, 14 were into online phishing and 1 led a criminal syndicate.

The same report showed that the number of prostitution dens ballooned in the same period which led to arresting 77 Chinese women involved and rescued 241 Chinese, Taiwanese and Filipino women who were forced into joining the illegal activity.

The committee also cited a BI report showing it has deported 886 foreign criminals who were confirmed fugitives from 2017. They were either undocumented or had no visa or working permit.

Meanwhile, data from the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG), show that the number of abduction cases involving Chinese nationals rose by 71 percent  to 58 cases in 2019 from 34 cases in 2018.

Of these 58 cases, there are 31 incidents of casino-related kidnappings or victims abducted by their loan-sharks after accumulating huge debts./Stacy Ang

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