Pogo proliferation points to potential covert spying in PH – Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Are Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) now being used to allow enemy forces and spies into the country?
Amid growing security worries, Pogos came under Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros’ scrutiny again when she raised the question on Friday during the Senate committee on women’s probe into Smart Web Technology.
Smart Web Technology, a Pogo firm in Pasay City, has been implicated in many crimes and offenses, including prostitution, human trafficking, torture, kidnapping for ransom, and online scams.
Hontiveros said some Chinese are now faking their nationalities to obtain valid Philippine identification cards and passports.
“Why do these Chinese nationals need to fake their nationalities?” she wondered.
“If their only motive is work, they can do so by applying for alien employment permits,” she said.
“Why the need to cover up their nationality to become Filipino?” the senator became suspicious.
“This makes us ask: Are Pogos being used as conduits to allow enemy forces and their spies into our country?” inquired Hontiveros in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Maybe Pogo and scam hubs are not the end game,” she thought.
“Maybe the end game is to infiltrate our borders and weaken our national security, with our Filipino officials as enablers,” the senator said.
The lawmaker finds it worrisome and “very problematic” how readily the Philippine government grants IDs to foreigners.
“These IDs legitimize their status here in the Philippines,” she explained.
“Ang isang matinding problema dito ay baka ang binibigyan natin ng identity ay mga fugitives sa ibang bansa,” she worried.
(One of the biggest problems here is that we probably give identity to some fugitives in foreign countries.)
Hontiveros asked Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Undersecretary Gilberto Cruz why foreigners fake their identities and pretend to be Filipinos.
Cruz responded with new names and new identities, criminals can “move around” and “do transactions easier.”