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July 11, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 222 views

THE Philippine National Police on Tuesday maintained that the conduct of two major raids on two suspected POGO hubs in the country which have engaged in online scams and human trafficking were all legitimate operations authorized by the court and done in utmost transparency.

PNP spokesperson, Colonel Jean Fajardo said that the raids in Clark Freeport Zone and in Las Piñas City were done based on court warrants and in accordance with police operational procedures in which human rights desk officers were even present at the sites to help foreign and Filipino workers ‘rescued’ in those facilities.

PNP Public Information Office chief, Brigadier General Redrico A. Maranan said that officials of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group headed by Brig. Gen. Sydney S. Hernia are set to talk with Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla Jr. to explain everything about the two raids they conducted, particularly the recent one in Las Piñas City.

Maranan said there was a clear ‘case build-up’ done prior to the raid in which the PNP-ACG acted on an ‘intelligence packet’ provided by the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Colonel Romeo J. Macapaz.

PAGCOR representatives as well as local officials and representatives from different Asian embassies were also present at the scene. Embassy officials in fact helped the PNP and the Bureau of Immigration document the foreign nationals held for questioning during the raid, seven of them: four Chinese and three Taiwanese nationals, eventually found to be wanted for various felonies.

The raids were conducted on the strength of warrants to search, seize and examine computer data issued by Las Piñas City Executive Judge Elizabeth Yu-Guray.

Five foreigners arrested during the raid have been ordered released for further investigation by the DOJ. However, since they have no passports, the five were turned over to the Bureau of Immigration for proper disposition.

On Monday, PNP chief, General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. said that presence of POGO hubs literally harboring and employing foreigners wanted in their own countries is ‘alarming’ and must be addressed thru close monitoring of these facilities.

He was referring to the recent arrest of four wanted Chinese and three Taiwanese nationals inside a POGO hub in Las Piñas City as well as the arrest of several other wanted Chinese during an operation in a similar establishment inside Clark Freeport Zone in Mabalacat City in Pampanga.

“That (arrest of wanted foreigners) is quite alarming. In line with that, there must be a constant coordination between the PNP and the Bureau of Immigration to arrest this thing. Our Directorate for Intelligence is keeping a close watch on this,” Gen. Acorda said.

The PNP chief earlier instructed the PNP-IG to monitor POGO facilities where illegal activities like human trafficking, kidnapping and cyber-crime activities are taking place and where foreign fugitives may be hiding too.

The PNP-IG provided the PNP-ACG with the ‘intelligence packet’ which resulted in the recent raid at what has been considered as the biggest trafficking hub discovered in the country believed to be being operated by a group of Chinese nationals, four of them identified as one alias ‘Quiha Lu,’ Liangfei Chen, Jimmy Lin and Abbey Ng.

Gen. Acorda said they have received reports that some POGO facilities are being used to ‘cover-up’ illegal activities and are checking them. “Kung ito ang practice o modus operandi, there’s a possibility, that’s why we’re intensifying our efforts as far as thisillegal operation is concerned,” he said.

Hernia said they discovered the presence of fugitive Asian nationals during the Clark and Las Piñas City raids. However, he added that they would be only able to find out if other POGO facilities in the country are engaged in the same illicit activity and are employing wanted aliens as soon as they launch operations against them.

The official said he has already talked with PAGCOR officials led by chairman Alejandro H. Tengco and suggested the need to closely monitor and inspect POGO hubs across the country. The surprise inspections must be conducted by officers from PAGCOR, the PNP-ACG, the Bureau of Immigration and concerned local government units and other agencies.

Brig. Gen. Hernia said that the PAGCOR has sought their inputs as the agency is set to come up with changes in its policies to address the POGO problems.

He said that one of their proposals is to have an active PNP participation especially those form the ACG in the conduct of POGO inspections. “Hopefully we can institutionalize ang participation ng PNP here,” the official said.