By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday she would dig deeper during a Senate committee hearing on Monday on accusations that government officials have links to the controversial operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country.
‘’This accusation is to be taken seriously,’’ she said following allegations of a trafficked Taiwanese woman that her abusive Chinese employers claimed that there are Philippine government officials protecting them.
“Hindi pwedeng may mga protektor itong mga ilegal na POGO, lalung-lalo na at nagdadala yung operasyon nila ng sankatutak na krimen,’’ she said. (There should be no protectors of illegal POGO, particularly when they bring in a lot of criminal activities.)
In a press conference led by Senator Risa Hontiveros last Wednesday, Lai Yu Cian a.k.a. Ivy, the 23-year-old Taiwanese woman trafficked into the Philippines to work for a POGO company, revealed that her abusive Chinese employers claimed that there are government officials protecting them.
Ivy was illegally recruited to work for a Chinese-run POGO company in Makati.
Her passport was also confiscated by her employers. She recounted that when her bosses would threaten her, they would say that if she escaped, she would still be found because there are government officials on their side.
“I even tell them all the thing I want is my passport, if you don’t give my salary, it’s okay. But they still keep lying to me … and they always say that there are government people or a government person to protect their business,” she recalled.
“They mentioned Michael Yang but I don’t know who [he is] … my boss only says that when he shouts at me,’’ she added.
Hontiveros said she would like to check whether or not the name ‘’Michael Yang’’ could just be the namesake of ‘’Michael Yang,’’ a former economic adviser of President Duterte.
Anti-crime advocate Teresita Ang See affirmed Ivy’s testimony, sharing that she also rescued a Chinese national who, when brought to the Department of Justice after the rescue, was bribed and threatened by a Chinese broker who went to the DOJ with a bag filled with money.
Ang See said this broker even proclaimed that policemen and prosecutors are in their pockets.
Hontiveros said she would raise this concern during the upcoming Senate hearing on POGO-related prostitution on Monday, February 17.
“Sabi ko nga, POGO brings a whole spectrum of crimes into the country: illegal recruitment, illegal detention, sexual harassment, prostitution, at iba pa,” she explained.
“Sa hearing, kailangan malaman natin kung meron nga bang kinalaman ang ating mga government officials, ating mga pulis at mga piskal. We need to a stop to these crimes,” she added. (In the hearing, we need to know whether there are government officials such as police authorities and fiscals are involved.)