LGUs in the Philippines

Bamban mayor linked to raided POGO in Tarlac

Joann Manabat

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Bamban mayor linked to raided POGO in Tarlac

POGO TO MUNISIPYO. The raided POGO compound in Bamban, Tarlac is located right behind the town's municipal hall.

Joann Manabat/Rappler

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian says the documents obtained during the raid reveal a possible link of Bamban town Mayor Alice Guo to the POGO accused of alleged scamming activities

TARLAC, Philippines – The mayor of Bamban town in Tarlac is being accused of having links with a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) which was raided recently by law enforcers because of complaints of human trafficking and serious illegal detention.

A team led by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) swooped down on March 13, on the POGO, Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated which had facilities right behind the Bamban municipal hall. The government now calls POGOs as internet gaming licensees (IGL).

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement Monday, March 25, that there were “damning pieces of evidence that Mayor (Alice) Guo might be involved in the operation of this POGO facility that is now implicated in various criminal activities. The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) should look closely into the matter.”

Gatchalian filed Senate Resolution No. 977 which aims to conduct an inquiry on human trafficking, serious illegal detention, and  physical abuse and torture allegations against the Tarlac POGO.

In a statement, Gatchalian said the documents obtained in the raid included the following:

  • A Sangguniang Bayan (SB) resolution dated September 2020;
  • List of the 38 vehicles found inside the premises with one Ford Expedition EL plate number CAT 6574 registered under the name of the mayor;
  • A statement of account from Tarlac Electric Corporation II (TARELCO II) with an electric bill totaling to P15.111 million from September 2023 to February 2024 billing period.

The SB resolution contained a letter of no objection which approved the application for a license to operate of Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated made by a then private citizen Guo.

Hongsheng was located in the same POGO compound. In February 2023, Hongsheng was raided by the authorities. Three months later, its name was changed to Zun Yuan, per documents obtained by Rappler.

The POGO compound is on a 10-hectare property with 36 structures which included buildings, barracks, and villas, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Also discovered was secret tunnel, which connected the three villas, according to PAOCC.

Since the raid, eight foreigners and one Filipino have been charged after the preliminary investigation through inquest proceedings.

Bamban town councilor Erdy Timbang also raised questions on the involvement of local officials during the SB regular session.

Rappler tried to reach out to Guo and Timbang but both have not replied. We will update this story once we receive their responses. – Rappler.com

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