42 Chinese POGO workers deported

Joann Manabat

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42 Chinese POGO workers deported

DEPORTED. Forty-two Chinese from the raided Smart Web Technology Corporation in Pasay City leave for Shanghai, China via Philippine Airlines from Manila International Airport on Thursday afternoon, February 22.

Joann Manabat/Rappler

The deportation follows the October 27, 2023 raid by an inter-agency team at the internet gaming hub Smart Web Technology Corporation

PASAY, Philippines – Forty-two of the 43 Chinese who worked for an illegal Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) in Pasay City were deported on Thursday afternoon, February 22.

Bound for Shanghai, China via Philippine Airlines, the deportation followed the October 27, 2023 raid by the inter-agency team at the internet gaming hub Smart Web Technology Corporation. Among the 42, only one was female.

The Bureau of Immigration, however, offloaded one of the Chinese due to a criminal charge of slight physical injury filed against him, based on their records. He will be brought back to Smart Web Technology Corp, according to the Presidential Anti-Organize Crime Commission (PAOCC).

PAOCC said 251 foreigners – 180 Chinese, 21 Vietnamese, five Malaysians, and three more Vietnamese – have been deported since December 2023, including the 42 Chinese who comprise the fifth batch of deportees.

Officials said 731 foreigners working for Smart Web Technology were held for questioning as some of the Chinese were victims of torture and kidnapping.

PAOCC spokesperson Winston Casio said the budget for deportations of POGO workers has always been shouldered by the government. 

WAITING. Chinese workers of POGO hub Smart Web Technology Corporation await boarding at the Manila International Airport via Philippine Airlines on Thursday, February 22. Joann Manabat/Rappler

He urged foreign embassies to help cover the cost of deportation, citing the case of the workers of Smart Web Technology whose deportation alone cost the government P1.4 million. All in all, he said, the government spent some P35 million in four months. 

“The fact is that the embassies do not help in covering the cost of the deportation. But what can we do? We cannot help them stay here forever,” said Casio.

Casio said the deportees were categorized as “low risk.” However, airline companies still require escorts from the government during their travel for the safety of other passengers.

 “It is really ideal to have a chartered flight. However, of course, we need to fill all the seats. Unfortunately, our budget is limited to a specific number of individuals. This budget is not part of the general appropriations fund,” he said.

In China, officials said, the deportees will be detained for 45 days as they may still face criminal charges. – Rappler.com

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