Clark security execs resign after raid on Pogo hub
CLARK FREEPORT — The police raid on a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) here and the rescue of over 1,000 workers, mostly foreigners, on May 4 have led to a string of resignations among top security officials of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) at the start of yet another Senate probe on Pogos.
Only retired Police Maj. Gen. Keith Ernald Singian, vice president of the Security Services Group (SSG), has been named so far among those who resigned.
“He (Singian) submitted a letter of resignation, but before that, we issued a preventive suspension on him,” lawyer Agnes Devanadera, CDC president and chief executive officer, said at a press briefing on Wednesday, May 31.
The Inquirer tried to reach Singian for a comment, but he did not respond to calls or text messages.
Devanadera cited “failure of intelligence” when asked for the basis of the preventive suspension of several heads and members of the SSG.
“There has been no report to management that there were red flags surrounding the [cybercrime] activities. The duty of the SSG is actually more than just looking into compliance [with CDC-issued permits],” she said.Devanadera added: “That’s the reason we have an intelligence division. So, it is the position of management that since there was no report at all, they didn’t do their job.”
Failure to detect
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., the incumbent chair of the security committee on the CDC board, has been designated to lead the investigation into why the SSG, including those in the Public Safety Department (PSD), failed to detect the alleged illicit activities.
While given an “expanded oversight function” over the operations of SSG and PSD, Santos is being helped by retired Army Col. Vicente Batac.
“The illegal thing going on is in their programs, in their chats with their customers, which is not readily seen unless you really look into what they are doing,” Batac said.
He said inspections were “more for compliance [with permits]. [The actual] illegal operations cannot be readily detected because we have no capability to detect those.”
The Pogo in question, Colorful and Leap Group, was at the bottom of four layers. It took a sublease from CGC Technologies Corp. that leased two buildings from Sun Valley Clark Hub Corp. The latter, in turn, leased 2.5 hectares from the main locator, the Korean-led Donggwang Clark Corp.
The CDC canceled the certificate of registration and tax exemption and other business permits of the firms, except for Donggwang, on May 29.
Devanadera said the rescue of the foreign workers who were allegedly trafficked to do online scams was requested by Indonesia, and so far, less than 200 of them had been repatriated.
Recruited for jobs abroad, they were said to have been forced to do cryptocurrency scams online.
Devanadera said the CDC would not tolerate human trafficking and that the agency would give its full cooperation and participation in the investigation to stop the illegal activity.