MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution seeking a Senate investigation into the possible involvement of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in human trafficking activities in the country.
In a statement Wednesday, Gatchalian said a probe is necessary following the recent rescue of around 1,000 foreigners at Clark Sun Valley Hub located in Clark Freeport Zone.
The compound where the individuals were rescued is suspected to be a POGO hub.
“These syndicates could be fronting as POGO operators but are actually engaged in criminal activities such as human trafficking and scamming,” Gatchalian explained.
According to Gatchalian, the "continued existence" of POGOs and their service operators that are involved in criminalities smear the country’s reputation in the international community.
“There is a need to determine the lapses and the loopholes in government processes that led to the facilitation of human trafficking on Philippine soil that undermines the human dignity of the trafficked persons and also violates their rights against involuntary servitude,” Gatchalian said.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman earlier recommended a ban on POGOs in the country.
In a statement, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which regulates POGO, warned offshore gaming licensees and accredited service providers "to abide by the Philippine laws."
"We will continuously subject our offshore gaming licensees and service providers to stricter monitoring," Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said.
"Only through regulated and responsible gaming can we minimize, if not totally eradicate all crimes that are being linked to gaming activities,” he added.