2 Pogos raided in Pasay City; trafficking victims rescued
MANILA, Philippines — Trafficking victims were rescued after two Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) were raided in Pasay City on Friday night.
According to information shared by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Freego Computer Gaming OPC and Xushen Technology Corp., whose licenses were revoked by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, are now operating under a new name.
Through a search warrant for violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act amended by the Expanded Anti-Trafficking Persons Act, law enforcement officers raided the compound where the Pogos were operating.
A report from PAOCC said that upon announcing the raid, two Chinese workers informed officers that they were being kept against their will. Torture marks were also seen on their bodies, with torture devices recovered on one of the floors in the Pogos’ building.
One said that he was kidnapped and sold by another Pogo for P500,000 five months ago, while the other said that he has been held for more than a year and is required to work twelve to fifteen hours a day.
During the search, 731 Filipino and foreign workers were discovered, the report shows. Seven Filipinas were discovered in an “aquarium-style” viewing chamber of the building.
The said chamber, according to authorities, is next to a massage parlor that allegedly promotes sex. It had prominent signs marketing sex services. Condoms and other sex paraphernalia were also recovered during the raid.
Aside from the victims, nine operators and administrators of the building were also discovered. The report said they posed as normal company owners, but evidence points out that they were behind the operation of the self-sustained compound.
A restaurant, pharmacy, and karaoke television rooms were located on the ground floor of the building. On its fifth floor were nine money vaults, which appear to carry the revenues of human trafficking, the report indicated.
With the number of sex trafficking evidence found on the site, PAOCC said an onsite inquest hearing for the filing of criminal charges under the country’s anti-trafficking law was suggested.
The revocation of Smart Web Technology Corp.’s internet gaming license was likewise recommended as it allowed human trafficking to take place in its facilities. The building and other assets will be referred for freezing and possible confiscation as illegal gains, the report noted.