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May 16, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 174 views

Alfred DalizonI’M referring to the raid on a suspected POGO hub inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga last May 4 week which was conducted by agents from different government agencies.

Many of my sources have told me that some 1,400 people, over 1,200 of them citizens of China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan and Vietnam were rounded-up during the operation.

That major anti-trafficking in persons’ operation have triggered a number of questions including who are the people behind the operation of the Clark Sun Valley Hub Corporation.

Why did local authorities fail to monitor the activities of the syndicate that big? Was there really a failure of intelligence or was it a case of a failure to act on intelligence? Who are the people behind its operation?

After the operation, another question raised is which government agency should be in-charge of ‘feeding’ those rounded-up thrice a day? Is it the Philippine National Police? Is it the Bureau of Immigration? Is it the Department of Social Welfare and Development? Is it the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking? Or is it the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission?

I’m asking the question since the Clark operation has really sparked big logistical problems which needs to be addressed thru a ‘whole-of-nation-approach’ since I was told that embassies of the ‘rescued foreigners’ are not willing to help much in shouldering their expenses.

Feeding more than 1,000 people three times a day is not that easy. If a person under protective custody needs to spend at least P50 per meal, that means he/she needs to have P150 for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If that would be the case, a minimum of P210,000 is needed to feed 1,400 PUPCs a day. So if the government is spending that amount of money to care for the foreigners and the other Filipinos rounded-up during the raid, it has already spent some P2.3 million already since last May 5.

The cost is expected to pile up since police cannot release those ‘rounded-up’ without any official order from the court and the higher-ups lest they would be accused of irregularities. Was is also true that some people offered P1 million for the release of each of the apprehended Chinese and other Southeast Asian nationals. I learned that concerned officials did not chew the offer however.

Some sources have informed me too that during the 1st 3-days that followed the Clark raid, the DSWD sent people to feed those ‘rescued.’ I learned that initially, the DSWD fed the over 1,000 people with Jollibee chicken. On the 3rd day, the agency realized it cannot anymore afford to feed those people and backed off from the job.

Add to that the money needed to feed the policemen guarding the PUPCs. I have been told there are some 200 PNP officers sent to the area to secure the foreigners and the Pinoys placed under investigation.

In reality, there is no place in Camp Crame or the BI or the DSWD to house the more than 1,000 people ‘rescued’ in the Clark raid. I still remember a similar operation many years ago wherein agents of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group rounded-up over 300 people, many of them foreigners, for involvement in cybercrime activities.

Feeding those people was not the only problem encountered by the PNP-ACG that year. The main problem is the lack of toilets and bathrooms that will accommodate the huge volume of apprehended suspects. That forced the PNP-ACG to rent a number of expensive portable toilets or ‘portalets.’

Can the government also ‘force’ concerned Asian embassies to shoulder the food and other expenses of their apprehended citizens? Is the DSWD the agency that should take care of the meals of those rounded-up? Is it the BI? Is it the PNP? The expenses is going up I was told although police cannot release the apprehended persons without any court order.

Already, 12 Asian nationals accused of having a major role in the operations of the raided facility have been inquested for violation of the country’s anti-trafficking in persons act before the Department of Justice.

The 12 composed of 7 Chinese nationals, 4 Indonesians and a Malaysian are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, said PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group director, Brigadier General Sydney Hernia.

I learned that a total of 1,368 Chinese and other Southeast Asian nationals ‘rescued’ by Philippine authorities last May 4 inside the Clark Freeport Zone-based suspected POGO hub-turned main base of online scammers were found to be being given inhumane treatment by the operators who ask them to pay huge fines for infractions of so-many rules of the Colorful and Leap Group under the Sun Valley Clark Hub.

There were also 235 Filipinos who were rounded-up during the raid. Of the 275 Chinese nationals rounded-up, 190 were also found to be with no passports at all and six of them were reported by the Chinese Embassy to be wanted in Mainland China, thus a request for their immediate deportation.

PNP chief, General Benjie Acorda expressed his gratitude to all those involved in this successful operation and commended their unwavering commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of human trafficking victims. “We will continue to work closely with other agencies to ensure that those who engage in such heinous crimes are held accountable. We must all unite in this fight against human trafficking and help put an end to this inhumane practice,” said the top cop.

The PAOCC headed by Executive Director Gilbert Cruz provided full support to the PNP-ACG, the PNP Special Action Force under Brig. Gen. Rod Dimas, the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Colonel Romeo Macapaz and the Mabalacat Municipal Police Station during the conduct of the searches and the rescue of the human trafficking victims.