POGOs agree to secure PNP, NBI clearances as crackdown intensifies

Published September 23, 2022, 8:59 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) have agreed to comply with the clearances from both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as part of the requirements for working in the country, a top police official disclosed on Friday, Sept. 23.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. said this was an offshoot of the meeting they initiated with POGOs amid the rising cases of criminal activities in the country, particularly kidnapping, involving their workers.

Azurin also revealed that they are now working with the POGOs to likewise require their workers to present proof that they are not wanted for criminal offenses in their respective countries.

PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr.

“With such a requirement, the government can ascertain that POGO workers coming here are law-abiding in their country and can also be law-abiding and respectful of our laws here,” Azurin told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.

Cases of kidnapping have steeply gone up since 2017, most of them involved POGO workers.

Kidnapping involving POGO workers usually occurs after the recruited workers would be forced to go home after the salaries and perks that were promised to them are not met after their arrival in the Philippines. This year alone, 27 kidnapping cases involving POGO workers were already recorded by the PNP.

POGO operators would then hire thugs, almost all of them Chinese and backed by Filipinos, to force the family to pay ransom in exchange for the release of their relatives.

Based on the PNP reports obtained by the Manila Bulletin before, the Chinese kidnappers would even resort to violence and torture in order to compel the relatives to pay the ransom.

Azurin earlier called for stricter rules that must be observed by POGOs for their workers, as he revealed that there was no clear-cut policy since 2017 to check on the background and the status of foreign POGO workers in the Philippines.

He also revealed that the PNP was told before not to dip its finger on POGO matters, except if crime is already committed.

Azurin also ordered a crackdown on undocumented and overstaying POGO workers in the country and was the first to proposed that POGO workers must secure police and NBI clearance first before they are allowed to work in the country.

Unity approach

“The DILG and the DOJ with its attached agencies like the PNP, NBI, BI (Bureau of Immigration) together with PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation) can make the crackdown of illegal Chinese POGO workers (expired visa or working permit) easier,” said Azurin.

He was reacting to the statement of Justice Sec. Jesus Crispin Remulla that there 40,000 illegal Chinese POGO workers in the country.

With POGOs now agreeing to the work requirements by government agencies, Azurin expressed confidence that everything about POGO will now be set right and will eventually lead to the end of involvement of POGO workers in various illegal activities.

“Because of this impositions, we are showing to the world that it’s safe to come here to invest and visit the beautiful Philippines which would translate to more job opportunities for every Filipino,” said Azurin.