Pogo posed as BPO, duped local gov’t — Porac execs
Blame game follows raid of gaming hub

Pogo posed as BPO, duped local gov’t — Porac execs

Pogo posed as BPO, duped local gov’t–Porac execs

The searched premises of Lucky South 99 are inside a 5.8-hectare complex with a total of 46 buildings, some of them visible in this photo. —PHOTO BY JUN A. MALIG

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) that was raided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) early this month had misled the local government of Pampanga’s Porac town by first applying as a business processing outsourcing (BPO) company in 2019, provincial officials found on Friday.

Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Inc. declared itself a Pogo only in 2021 when it renewed business permits from the local government.

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The company submitted Municipal Resolution No. 119 in 2019 when it applied for business permits although the document merely certified that the local council posed no objection “to establish, operate and manage business processing outsourcing services,” said Provincial Board Member Ananias Canlas Jr., pointing to a copy of the document he scrutinized during the hearing conducted by three board committees.

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“There is machination,” he said.

No business permit

Lucky South executives could not be located after the raids on its complex on June 4 and June 5.

Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda was visibly angered by Porac Mayor Jing Capil’s statement that no business permit was issued to Lucky South in 2024 because it was on the negative list of the Bureau of Fire Protection for noncompliance.

“Should you instead check its activities in the many buildings inside the compound?” she asked.

It riled her again when she was told that Lucky South refused the mayor’s inspection of the compound last March.

Still renewed

The police requested an inspection in August 2023, and the local government noted only drainage run-off.

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A staff member of the Environment Management Bureau managed to get in last April but saw only a few parts of the sprawling 5.8-hectare compound. Capil insisted that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), not mayors, regulate Pogos.

But Canlas noted that Capil had not shown proof that it inquired with Pagcor on the current status of Lucky South.

Pineda called out Capil for lack of due diligence because he renewed Lucky South’s business operation in 2022 despite the shutdown ordered by Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos of its Angeles City operations following the rescue of 43 Chinese nationals there.

A Porac official admitted in the hearing that Lucky South obtained occupancy permits for 27 buildings as early as 2017.

Canlas was shocked that a business permit was issued the “same day” that the company applied for it.

Canlas, wanting to draw more facts, put the Porac officials under oath, which the provincial council had not done in years. Lucky South paid P10,000 for local licenses and fees, and P4,000 for real property tax annually.

Citing the little gain against the big damage the province incurred from this Pogo operation, the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s cofounder, Rene Romero, appealed for a “ban on legal and illegal Pogos in the whole of Pampanga.”18 sets of uniforms

In Manila, PAOCC which led the raid in Porac said it found about 18 sets of Chinese military uniforms at the Pogo hub.

READ: 7 more Filipinos rescued in Pampanga Pogo raid — PAOCC

But PAOCC executive director Gilbert Cruz said not all the 18 sets of uniforms were identical, adding that they were still trying to determine whether the uniforms were owned by a single person or by multiple individuals.

The uniforms were different from each other, he said in a radio interview but did not clarify whether they were from different branches of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Buttons on some of the uniforms had the initials PLA.

Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the uniforms were probably “used as props” in Lucky South’s online scams.

“The limited number of PLA uniforms found suggests they are more indicative of use in deceptive activities rather than any preparation for an invasion,” Padilla said.

Old versions

But PAOOCC spokesperson Winston John Casio said on Thursday that the uniforms were authentic, according to military experts from the Philippine intelligence community.

“But then again, these are dated, meaning to say they are old uniforms,” he added.

According to Casio, the owners of the uniforms could be former PLA men, adding that the veterans could be owners or workers of the Pogo hub or they could be uniform collectors.

READ: Pogo raid in Pampanga yields suspected Chinese military uniforms, pins 

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Philippine Air Force symposium in Pasay City on Friday, AFP chief of staff Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the presence of the military uniforms “could mean several things.”

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“We have to be careful in not giving general statements or generalizations, we have to study it carefully,” he told reporters. “So we will study it carefully and we will make our recommendations to the President.” WITH A REPORT FROM NESTOR CORRALES 

TAGS: Pampanga, pogo, Porac

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