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PNP probes 3K ‘protective agents’ amid POGO kidnap cases

September 19, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 496 views

NEARLY 3,000 licensed “protective agents” or PAs in the country will be subjected to a thorough background investigation by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to find out if they are really working with legal papers, the Journal Group learned on Monday.

Acting on orders of PNP Chief General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr., concerned PNP units led by the Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies (PNP-SOSIA) and the Firearms and Explosives Office are also checking if any of these PAs are using “Permit-to-Carry-Firearms-Outside-of-Residence” in securing their clients.

The move is aimed at identifying PAs who are violating PNP rules when it comes to providing protection to their clients, one of which is the requirement that they must be covered by a Special Duty Detail Order (SDDO) from the PNP-SOSIA “authorizing” them to carry firearms and perform bodyguard duties for their protectees.

As of press time, police are also investigating some PAs identified as present during a shooting incident in Parañaque City, which left two Chinese nationals dead. The licenses of these PAs will be revoked, the Journal Group learned.

PAs must be covered by an “Authority to Deploy Protection Agents” issued by CPNP (valid for one year) or TDO (valid for up to 6 months) and SDDO issued by the PNP Civil Security Group (CSG) headed by Maj. Gen. Michael John F. Dubria and the PNP-SOSIA, Azurin said.

The PNP CSG-SOSIA, headed by Brig. Gen. Leumar U. Abugan, in coordination with the five NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office) police districts and the 17 other Police Regional Offices (PROs) has been ordered by Azurin to inspect all private security personnel performing duties in areas where there are known POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) operations.

The subject of the inspection are watchmen, security guards, and PAs, he said. The CSG-SOSIA is fully coordinating its ongoing investigation with concerned private security agency owners.

Owners of security agencies will face penalties, including revocation of their licenses, should they be found violating laws and regulations concerning the deployment of PAs.

‘Azurin grateful for Senate’s appreciation of PNP’s action on POGO-linked issues’

Gen. Azurin said that last Friday, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa adjourned the inquiry on the gaming operations of POGO amid recent reports of kidnapping cases involving POGO workers and casino players.

“We are grateful for the Senate’s appreciation of PNP actions to find a solution to every POGO-related kidnapping case reported to the police, of which the PNP, mainly thru the efforts of the Anti-Kidnapping Group [AKG], has solved nine of the 17 POGO-related kidnapping cases reported since January this year. One other case has been marked as cleared, while seven other cases remain under investigation,” he said.

“The PNP is also grateful for the responsiveness of the senators to PNP proposals that will establish an efficient system of monitoring and identification of alien workers in the POGO industry as well as the exercise of visitorial powers by PNP Units to inspect and account for security personnel and systems employed in POGO firms, some of whom have been reported to be active participants in some kidnapping and illegal detention complaints,” he added.

Azurin said that last Saturday, Justice Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Olive Torrevillas subscribed the five judicial affidavits of POGO workers rescued from human trafficking conditions at the Lucky South 99 gaming firm in Angeles City that has since been permanently closed.

“To further bolster police investigative capacity in POGO-related incidents, we are seeking to forge a better understanding with concerned government agencies such as the Bureau of Immigration [BI] and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation [Pagcor]. This is in line with operational plans to conduct on-the-spot records verification of foreigners and enforcement of applicable laws and local ordinances that regulate business operations,” he said.

Azurin maintained that the crackdown on unauthorized private bodyguards being employed by POGO operators and other moneyed foreign nationals in the country will spare no one.

The top cop ordered the crackdown amid a series of untoward incidents regarding the involvement of Chinese nationals in criminal and other abusive acts in the land, the majority of them related to POGO or online casino debts.

Last week, Azurin ordered all concerned police units to regularly check unauthorized security personnel in POGO establishments and other industries that have become notorious for illegal activities and violence.

In many hotels and casinos in Metro Manila, Chinese casino patrons and known POGO operators are daily seen with a coterie of burly bodyguards in civilian clothes, many of them carrying firearms as they board SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and cars.

There were also complaints that some “heavily-tattooed” Chinese nationals who don’t know to speak even a little bit of English and Filipino have been enlisted as “honorary officials, even with 2-star rank” in some law enforcement agencies outside of the PNP.

These “Chinese 1-star or 2-star officials” in one law enforcement agency guarding the country’s maritime resources are also being seen accompanied by bodyguards.

“In the wake of reports of alleged participation of some licensed Protective Agents [PAs] in violent incidents involving their protectees, I have directed the PNP Civil Security Group and Police Regional Offices to conduct an inventory and accounting of all private Protective Agents providing security services as “bodyguard’ to some VIPs, including foreigners engaged in business activities in the country,” Azurin said.

Lately, police have investigated a number of incidents involving rogue Chinese nationals and their PAs.

They include the case of two Chinese nationals and their Filipino protective agent, who were accused of involvement in a case of indiscriminate firing inside the Fontana Resort in Clark Freeport Zone on Tuesday last week until they were arrested in a hot pursuit operation by agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Brig. Gen. Ronald O. Lee.

Confiscated from the possession of the suspects were one Armscor caliber .45 semi-automatic pistol with two magazines containing 32 live ammunition, one 9mm pistol with two magazines loaded with 22 bullets; and one cal. .45 Colt pistol with a magazine containing seven live ammunition.

The following day, PNP-CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) officers arrested a suspected Chinese “gangster” and his Filipina companion inside the same freeport zone while reportedly conducting surveillance on some targets. Recovered inside the suspects’ vehicle was one unlicensed caliber 9mm pistol.

Then there was also that July 22 incident inside the apartment building in Marina Bay in Barangay Don Galo, Parañaque City, where two Chinese nationals were shot to death. NCRPO Director Brig. Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo said he ordered a massive hunt for at least four Chinese nationals and their 17 Filipino companions, some of them said to be “PAs” and suspected police officers tagged as suspects in the murder case.