DOJ asks PAGCor to check activities of licensees to prevent human trafficking

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said the Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked the Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to scrutinize the licenses it had issued to determine if the operators are engaged in illegal activities.

“We alerted PAGCOR about their duty of due diligence on all the companies that they are giving permits to make sure they are not engaged in any illegal activity, most especially, human trafficking,” Remulla said during an interview with journalists.

He said “the chairman PAGCOR has made the commitment that they will not allow human trafficking to be a fixture in any of the activities of PAGCOR licenses.”

The move was made by the DOJ after the May 4 operation by the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) at the Clark Sun Valley Hub Corporation located at the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone in Mabalacat, Pampanga against an alleged cryptocurrency scam syndicate.

The operation resulted in the rescue of over 1,000 persons, 129 of them Filipinos and the rest foreigners from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The operation also resulted in the seizure of evidence including a significant volume of devices that are already being examined and processed by PNP-ACG,” the DOJ had said in a statement.

It also said: “Preliminary evidence indicate that the victims were recruited as call center agents to entice foreign customers from the United States, Canada, and Europe to invest in cryptocurrency. The victims, mostly male, were instructed to pretend to be attractive women to lure their victims to invest.”

During the operation, the DOJ said the PNP-ACG arrested 12 foreigners – seven Chinese, four Indonesians and a Malaysian -- all of whom were “initially identified as traffickers of the victims.”

Those arrested had been presented before the DOJ for inquest on alleged violations of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

It said those arrested and presented for inquest were assisted by Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and executed a waiver of their rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, through the duly certified interpreters from the Chinese and Indonesian Embassy.

It also said the hearing was reset to May 15 to allow those charged to file their counter-affidavits.