Cybercrime law

Laoag’s Fort Ilocandia raided for alleged cybercrime, computers seized

Lian Buan, John Michael Mugas
Laoag’s Fort Ilocandia raided for alleged cybercrime, computers seized
(1st UPDATE) No one is arrested in the pre-Christmas raid, but 'quite a large number of computers' are seized

MANILA, Philippines – Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, was raided by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and local police on December 20, 2021, where computers and other gadgets were seized on suspicion they were being used for fraud, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed to Rappler.

The NBI was implementing a cyber warrant for violation of Section 4(b)(2) of the Cybercrime Law, or computer-related fraud, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told Rappler on Monday, January 3.

“I suspect illegal online gambling, though, malalaman ‘yan paglabas ng resulta ng NBI forensic examination (we will know when the NBI’s forensic examination results come out),” Guevarra said in a text message.

There were no arrests, but “quite a large number of computers were involved” and confiscated at the administrative office of Fort Ilocandia as well as Hotel B, a facility at the Fort, according to Guevarra. The cyber warrant was specified for the two areas, he added.

The search, which Laoag City cops described as “peaceful,” began at around midnight and lasted more than four hours. Seized were the following: 35 desktop units; 20 cellular phones; several SIM cards; two routers; and nine company identification cards.

The Laoag City police said the items are now under the custody of the NBI “for proper disposition.”

Hotel B was raided in December 2016 and shut down for unlicensed gaming operations. It was operated by Jack Lam, who also owned the Fontana casino in Pampanga that was also raided and closed down that same month in 2016. Lam’s bribery try on immigration officials for the release of Chinese workers in Pampanga had resulted in last year’s plunder conviction of five years of his middleman Wally Sombero, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s fraternity brothers former immigration associate commissioners Michael Robles and Al Argosino.

Guevarra said “many Chinese-looking persons were found in the premises” of the Fort Ilocandia hotel during the December 20 raid. The target, Guevarra said, was a certain Yves L alias Weng, but added it’s not clear in the report submitted to him if he was in the premises.

Asked about initial information that fake money was seized, Guevarra said: “No fake money nor paraphernalia for printing the same were found.” – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.