Authorities raid POGO compound in Tarlac over alleged human trafficking

Joann Manabat

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Authorities raid POGO compound in Tarlac over alleged human trafficking

RAID. At least 408 workers are being held for questioning by the authorities following the midnight raid in a large POGO compound in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac, on March 13, 2024.

Joann Manabat/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) The raid stemmed from a complaint filed by a Vietnamese who escaped from the POGO compound, says Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission spokesperson Winston Casio

TARLAC CITY, Philippines – A team led by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) on Wednesday, March 13, conducted a raid on one of the biggest offshore gaming operations compounds in Bamban, Tarlac, over alleged human trafficking and serious illegal detention.

The PAOCC and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Integrity Monitoring Enforcement Group (IMEG), Intelligence Group (IG), Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), and the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) were armed with two search warrants against internet gaming licensed hub Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, said PAOCC spokesperson Winston Casio.

The search warrant was issued by Presiding Judge Hermenegildo Dumlao II of the Regional Trial Court Third Judicial Region Branch 81 in Malolos, Bulacan.

A total of 408 people – 234 Filipinos, 107 Chinese, 58 Vietnamese, 6 Malaysians, 2 Rwandans, and a Taiwanese – have been accounted for by authorities as of 5:30 am on Wednesday. All were working inside the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) compound. 

Casio said the warrants stemmed from a complaint filed by a Vietnamese who escaped from the POGO compound on February 25. (A previous version of this story stated that the escape took place on February 28. This has been corrected. – Editors) 

A Malaysian had also sought PAOCC’s assistance and alleged that he was being held against his will inside the POGO compound. He will be brought to the medico-legal officer as he bore signs of torture and physical abuse, Casio said.

“We were able to rescue one Malaysian…. He’s being manhandled, electrocuted,” said Casio.

Seventeen of the foreigners who had been rounded up were caught in a van during a hot pursuit operation along M.A. Roxas Highway together with the Clark Development Corporation’s Traffic Management Section of its Public Safety Division.

During the search of the POGO premises, authorities found scripts of a love scam modus, as well as Android smartphones and iPhones with possible scam transactions. 

“In light of the discovery, the Anti-Cybercrime Group will apply for a cyber warrant with the assistance of the Department of Justice Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking,” said Casio. – Rappler.com

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