MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for a Senate inquiry to investigate the potential connection between the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) industry and human trafficking activities.
Gatchalian’s call comes in response to the recent rescue of over 1,000 individuals at the Clark Sun Valley Hub in the Clark Freeport Zone. The rescued group included 389 Vietnamese, 307 Chinese, 171 Filipinos, 143 Indonesians, 40 Nepalese, 25 Malaysians, 7 Burmese, 2 Thais, and 1 individual from Hong Kong.
Suspecting that the compound where the individuals were rescued may be a POGO hub within the Clark Freeport Zone, Gatchalian has filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 611, urging an investigation by both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Gatchalian expressed concern that these criminal syndicates could be posing as POGO operators while engaging in illegal activities like human trafficking and scams. He emphasized the need to address this issue as it tarnishes the country’s international reputation, threatens public safety and order, and undermines the well-being of both Filipinos and foreign nationals residing in the country.
Highlighting the urgency of the matter, Gatchalian stressed the need to identify the gaps and weaknesses in government processes that have allowed human trafficking to occur within the Philippines, violating the dignity and rights of the victims.
Earlier disclosures by Gatchalian revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation had investigated 113 POGO-related cases from 2017 to March 2023, of which 65 were related to human trafficking.
Given the alarming rise in human trafficking incidents linked to POGOs, Gatchalian emphasized the importance of reviewing the framework governing POGO operations in the Philippines, combating these crimes, and apprehending the individuals responsible.