65 foreigners found dead near POGO hubs in Region 3

June 25, 2024 Alfred P. Dalizon 294 views

AT least 65 foreign nationals have been found dead, all believed to be victims of abduction and summary killings, in Central Luzon in 2023, the Journal Group learned.

According to sources, the corpses were mostly found near areas where illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hubs-turned-scam farms operated.

Thirty-three of the victims were confirmed to be foreign nationals while the 31 others were all “foreign-looking.”

Records showed that 33 confirmed foreign nationals were dead and their cadavers were found in Central Luzon; 24 were recovered in Angeles City, 6 in Pampanga, 2 in Olongapo City and 1 in Tarlac.

One foreign-looking victim and 2 others were recovered in Bataan and Pampanga.

The victims, majority of them shot and strangled to death, were recovered in different parts of Porac, Mabalacat and San Simon in Pampanga and in Concepcion in Tarlac and in Olongapo City.

Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Executive Director Gilbert Cruz said he understands the point of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Rommel Francisco D. Marbil when he ordered the investigation of the Police Regional Office 3 director regarding the unsolved cases of ‘recovered dead bodies.’

“Sixty-five bodies of confirmed foreigners and foreign-looking nationals were found in Central Luzon since last year.

It’s frightening and indeed would send the wrong signal to the public, especially would-be foreign investors who would like to visit and do business in the region,” said Cruz.

Gen. Marbil said he has ordered the investigation of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-3 director, Brigadier Gen. Jose S. Hidalgo in connection with the discovery of the dead bodies in Central Luzon.

The top cop said that Hidalgo, the Central Luzon police director since February 2023 is under probe, just like the provincial directors and chiefs of police of the concerned areas for ‘failing to take action’ on those reports.

Gen. Marbil said that in the first place, those ‘scam farms’ should have been thoroughly inspected by proper authorities especially LGUs and the PAGCOR with the assistance of the police.

The Pampanga provincial police director and the chief of the Porac municipal police station were earlier administratively relieved from their posts in the aftermath of the Porac POGO raid.

The anti-POGO raid in Bamban, Tarlac also led in the relief of 49 local policemen led by their police chief.

Gen. Marbil said the investigation does not however necessarily mean that the PRO 3 director is a “protector” of POGO.