PNP confirms killings in raided Pogo hubs
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PNP confirms killings in raided Pogo hubs

PORAC INSPECTION Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz on Monday inspect the raided Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hub in Porac, Pampanga. They found KTV bars, Chinese military uniforms, a sex den, a torture room and equipment used for online scams. —RICHARD A. REYES

PORAC INSPECTION Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and PAOCC Usec. Gilbert Cruz on Monday inspect the raided Pogo hub in Porac, Pampanga. They found KTV bars, Chinese military uniforms, a sex den, a torture room and equipment used for online scams. —Richard A. Reyes

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil on Monday confirmed the “unreported killings” in Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hubs that were recently raided by the police in Central Luzon region.

At a press conference, Marbil said the undisclosed deaths were one of the reasons why the PNP leadership recently relieved some police officials in the provinces of Tarlac and Pampanga.

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The provincial police chief of Pampanga, Col. Levi Hope Basilio, and the municipal police chief of Porac, Lt. Col. Palmyra Guardaya, were relieved from their posts early this month to give way into the investigation over the alleged illegal operation of a sprawling Pogo complex in Porac.

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“There were killings there that were not properly investigated. It’s not normal. Why were there foreigners who were killed there? They (Pampanga police officials) should have investigated that,” Marbil said without providing details.

In Tarlac, the entire police force of Bamban town was relieved last month following the March 14 raid of the Pogo operation there and the ensuing investigation into its links to Alice Guo. The identity of the suspended Bamban mayor is also being investigated, primarily by the Senate.

While certain police personnel need to be held accountable, Marbil said he would not consider them as “protectors” of Pogos.

“We have an integrity monitoring group checking on our people. What we are after is the inefficiency of our police. Why are these incidents not investigated and reported to the headquarters?” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he would ask the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to suspend and investigate Porac Mayor Jaime Capil for allowing the illegal operation of “the largest” Pogo enterprise within his jurisdiction.

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‘Red flag’ on mayor

After inspecting the fenced Lucky South 99 compound in Porac on Monday, Gatchalian said that based on what he saw, “it is simply impossible that 2,000 foreigners are coming in and going out” of that area without the mayor knowing it.

According to the senator, he served as mayor for nine years, and he knows how powerful that position is.

“The mayor has vast powers. He can inspect an establishment for sanitation and fire code compliance for the general welfare of the public. Even a building’s electrical [connection] can be used as an excuse to make an inspection.

He (Capil) said he did not know and was not allowed to enter [the Lucky South 99 premises]. That should have been a red flag already. If they prohibit a mayor from entering, he should have suspected something already,” Gatchalian, a former Valenzuela City mayor, said at a press conference outside the 10-hectare compound.

Joining him were Presidential Anti-Organized Crime (PAOCC) director Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz and spokesperson Winston John Casio.

“There are really lapses. It’s disappointing that he (Capil) did know about it. This is his jurisdiction,” the senator said.

The Inquirer contacted Capil for comment, but as of Monday night, the mayor had yet to reply.

Capil said earlier that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) failed to monitor Lucky South 99. He added that he did not issue a business permit to the Pogo enterprise because of its noncompliance with the fire code.

‘Enabler’

Also on Monday, PAOCC said documents recovered from the Pogo hubs raided in Tarlac and Pampanga would prove that Guo was an “enabler” of their human trafficking and scamming operations.

“The mayor’s connection to these two Pogo hubs in Bamban and Porac towns is becoming clearer because we are seeing her digital footprints as well as paper trails on these two scam farms,” said Casio, who also cited documents by Pagcor which, according to him, point to Guo’s role in Baofu Land Development Inc., the listed lessor of the sprawling Pogo hub beside Bamban’s municipal hall, and the Lucky South 99 operations in Porac.

“It appears that the mayor is a primary enabler—her participation in Baofu is quite clear, while Baofu … is [also] linked to Lucky South 99 through a certain personality. These things are becoming clearer as we sift through more documentary evidence,” he said.

According to Casio, two persons already charged by his agency, Zhang Ruijin and Baoying Lin, are Guo’s business partners.

“These two are … detained in Singapore for the biggest money laundering case in that island nation state,” he said.

A third suspect, Huang Zhiyang, is listed as an incorporator, operator and manager of Sun Valley Pogo hub in Clark Freeport in Pampanga, which is also connected to Baofu and other Pogo hubs, Casio said.

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He said PAOCC would file more criminal cases against Guo and her alleged associates before the Department of Justice. —with a report from Melvin Gascon

TAGS: illegal POGO, PAOCC, Porac town, Rommel Francisco Marbil, Sherwin Gatchalian

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