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Bamban POGO raided by CIDG

BAMBAN, Tarlac (Feb. 2, 2023) – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Central Luzon (CIDG3) swooped down on a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) based in Barangay Anupul here yesterday afternoon.

The raid netted 850 individuals – 500 Filipinos and 350 foreign nationals – including alleged operator Chai Kiat Chiw, a Malaysian, for allegedly operating cryptocurrency investment scams.

The CIDG3 served the warrant issued by Judge Maria Roma Flor Ortiz of the Tarlac Regional Trial Court Branch 63 on Jan. 31, 2023, for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The 5 pm raid was caught on a mobile phone video from an adjoining building as it unfolded. The raiding team surrounded the target building where the suspects were rounded up.

However, Filipina Malaysian Thelma Barrogo Larnan and two other foreigners — Yu Zheng Can and Zhiyang Huang alias “Boss Wang”, escaped during the raid.

“Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc. allegedly operates fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scams shielded under the cloak of a permitted or licensed offshore gaming operation,” the CIDG3 report stated.

Hongsheng’s license to operate as a POGO was canceled on Sept. 20, 2022, by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

Mayor Guo and POGO

On Sept. 16, 2020, the Sangguniang Bayan of Bamban enacted a resolution “interposing no objection” for Hongsheng to operate in the municipality. The document can be found here.

Resolution No. 185, Series of 2020 titled — “A Resolution interposing no objection to the application of Ms. Alice Guo for franchise/license/permit of Hongsheng Gaming Technology, Inc. to national and local government agencies, offices and bureaus, for the company’s intention to establish, operate and manage a business amusement, entertainment, recreation and gaming activities in Barangay Anupul, this municipality, provided that the gaming activities conducted therein shall be exclusive only to their members and their community.”

The resolution was enacted after then-Mayor Jose Antonio Feliciano requested the local council enact a resolution “interposing no objection” to the application for franchise/license/permit to Ms Alice Guo – now Mayor – to operate in the municipality.

Tarlakenyo has yet to receive a reply from Mayor Guo on the issue.

Not the first time

The raid yesterday was not the first time that foreign companies based in Bamban have been involved in questionable activities.

On Dec. 6, 2020, authorities arrested 341 – 323 Chinese nationals, eight Malaysians, and one Indonesian – undocumented foreign workers, who were reportedly involved in online gambling and cybercrime operations in Barangay Dela Cruz.

There was also a report in 2022 involving several residents of Concepcion, Tarlac, escaping from one of the foreign-operated buildings in Bamban involved in online pornography. No cases were filed since the victims refused to file charges for fear of reprisals.

POGOs must go

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bill 1281 seeking to prohibit the online gambling operations of foreign nationals in the country.

The senator said that there are a lot of options to promote various job opportunities for Filipinos and not just the gambling operated by POGOs. Villanueva cited several emerging industries available for Filipinos such as the booming industry in tourism, the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), among others.

“If we love this nation, if we love the next generation of our country, let’s inherit them with the right attitude, the importance of perseverance and diligence, the importance of education and not to depend on the game of chances. Gambling is not the right thing,” the senator said.

Victor de Guzman
Victor de Guzman
Victor is a native of Concepcion, Tarlac. His passion in life - aside from writing - is chasing after whatever the world presents to him, girls included. He is into rare coins and stamp collecting. You will see him leafing through stacks of books in any second hand bookshop.
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