Beware of 'POGOs' that recruit workers via social media–DOLE

Published April 23, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Deparrment of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III has warned the public against dealing with alleged Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) that use social media for their recruitment activities.

Bello, in a statement Friday, April 23 , said there are unscrupulous groups out there that “promise to give attractive salary packages” to their victims but end up causing them “serious financial and emotional problems”.

“It would be prudent to verify first the registration of such companies with relevant government agencies prior to engaging with them,” said the Cabinet official.

Bello made these remarks after DOLE learned of the illegal recruitment being perpetrated by certain local companies posing as POGOs.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) had verified that certain Chinese companies are operating in the country as POGO without license, accreditation, or pending application with its Online Gaming and Licenses Department (OGLD).

Reports reaching the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) bared that a Taiwanese identified as Wu Keng-Hao went to the country last February 26, 2021 to work for an online gaming company.

Wu told the police that he was lured to apply to work for POGO through the social media account of Chinese firm Yinghuang Yule, which promised a 13,000 Renminbi (P97,000) monthly salary.

Upon arrival in the country, he was brought to a hotel in Pasay for the mandatory quarantine. He was later housed in a budget hotel in Paranaque City and was turned into a ‘POGO work slave’ after he was sold twice to two different companies.

The two companies–Yinghuang Yule and 3 + 7 Company–were both not authorized to operate as POGO in the Philippines.

The report also said that the Taiwanese victim was only rescued by the PNP on March 2, 2021 after he called his relatives in Taiwan, who in turn sought the assistance of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO). It was TECO officials who informed the PNP-AKG on the ordeal experienced by the victim.

According to PNP-AKG, the “slave trade” has been the modus of POGO firms for years. Chinese or Taiwanese nationals would be lured through social media accounts and recruited as POGO workers.

These companies would often compensate them lower than what was agreed upon and if they refuse, they will be abducted and treated as kidnap victims. Their families would then be called and asked for ransom.