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Poe: Probe human trafficking, cyber fraud ops in Clark firm

May 8, 2023 Camille P. Balagtas 160 views

SENATOR Grace Poe has filed a resolution to investigate the alleged human trafficking and cyber fraud operations at a Clark-based firm.

“We need to uncover the true scale and roots of human trafficking in the country. This is an insidious crime that must stop,” Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said.

The senator filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 595 following a raid in the firm operating inside Clark Freeport Zone, which resulted in the rescue of a total of 1,048 alleged human trafficking victims of different Asian nationalities, including Filipinos.

The rescued workers were reportedly forced to engage in “cyber fraud” involving cryptocurrencies.

“There is an urgent need to determine the supposed existence and cease the operations of these ‘scam hubs’ in the country for the protection of our citizens and foreign nationals that are being victimized by this kind of human trafficking scheme,” she said.

Poe said the Bureau of Immigration (BI) must explain the presence of foreign workers and show what kind of visas they hold.

There is also a need for other law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), and the Inter-Agency Council on Anti-Trafficking to intensify their operations against human trafficking of foreign nationals into the country, the senator said.

Poe cited the April 19, 2023 hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality which revealed the existence of “scam hubs” in the Philippines that engage in cyber fraud operations and traffic foreign workers into the country.

The hearing also bared that these scam hubs and the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs in the country have some similarities in their schemes and could be “simply just one operation that’s happening underneath many operations.”

“Our inquiry sends the message to traffickers that this crime won’t be tolerated and will be dealt with the full force of the law,” Poe said.

Data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that a total of 12,881 foreign nationals were human trafficking victims in the Philippines from 2007 to 2020.