402 POGO hubs have expired licenses’

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —  At least 402 Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) hubs in the country have expired licenses, according to the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission.

PAOCC executive director Gilbert Cruz said there are POGO hubs in Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro, but a majority are in Metro Manila.

“Practically in the entire country, but... around 90 percent are in the National Capital Region,” Cruz said in an interview at Camp Crame.

He said POGO firms continue to operate even though they have yet to renew their internet gaming license with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

In Tarlac, 658 people were arrested in a raid at the Zuan Yuan Technology Inc. in Bamban on Wednesday.

Citing latest data, Cruz said 202 Chinese, 54 Vietnamese, 13 Malaysians, two Indonesians, two Rwandans, a Taiwanese and a citizen of Kyrgyzstan were rounded up.

Some of the Filipinos are security guards. The rest are housekeepers and maintenance crew in the POGO hub.

Cruz described those arrested as ”enforcers” or who impose punishment on employees who fail to meet their quotas.

He said criminal complaints for human trafficking and serious illegal detention are being readied against the suspects.

Lawmen swooped down on 36 buildings within the compound in Barangay Anupul.

As this developed, senators reiterated their call to ban POGO hubs in the country.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who led a Senate investigation into POGO-related crimes, said the raid in Tarlac ”underscores the threat posed by the industry to the society.”

Sen. Grace Poe stressed the stand of senators for a phaseout of POGOs, saying they have made the country a ”fertile ground for various crimes.”

The Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center had earlier warned the public on the proliferation of online scams allegedly perpretrated by former POGO firms. –  Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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