Risa to look into claims officials protecting Pogos
Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday said she would look into allegations that government officials could be protecting Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), which have been accused of involvement in trafficking and tax evasion.
Hontiveros recently came to the aid of a 23-year-old Taiwanese woman who said she was trafficked in the Philippines and tricked into working for a Pogo amid slavelike conditions.
The woman, Lai Yu Cian, accused her employers of physically abusing and molesting her, saying they had mentioned the name “Michael Yang” as their protector. The alleged protector is the namesake of President Duterte’s former economic adviser.
Malacañang, for its part, dismissed rumors that the Michael Yang mentioned as a protector of Pogos operating here was the same friend of the President.
“That’s just a rumor. (The victims) should file a formal complaint. They should not be airing it in the media. If there is a victim, then they should help in giving that victim justice,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.Hontiveros said Lai’s allegation should be taken seriously.
“It cannot be that there are protectors for illegal Pogos, especially the operations that bring with them a lot of crime,” she added.
The senator said she would raise the concern about the possible involvement of government officials in Pogo operations when the Senate resumes its hearings on prostitution rings serving these operations.
Malacañang this week vowed to run after Philippine offshore gambling hubs that have incurred a collective P50 billion in tax deficiencies, assuring the public there will be “no sacred cows.”
“We will run after them. President Duterte is clear on that. No sacred cows in the government. You owe the government? We’ll run after you, the way he did with Philippine Airlines, Mighty Cigarettes, (and) water concessionaires,” Panelo said.
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