The Philippine National Police (PNP) has called on the government to establish a comprehensive database of foreign online gaming workers, as well as licensed POGO operators, to assist its efforts in cracking down on crime within the industry.
At a press briefing held in Quezon City on Monday, NP chief, Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr told reporters that his officers were having trouble keeping tabs on the POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) industry due to the many roadblocks it faced during investigations.
“We have seen that our police is struggling because we lack the records of the foreigners coming in our country to work at POGO companies here,” Azurin said, as reported by state-run Philippine News Agency.
“We really need to engage (our) Bureau of Immigration so we would know who are the Chinese nationals coming to our country, as well as their classification.”
Addressing the need for a list of legitimate operators as well as records of all Chinese nationals entering the country, he added, “These are the things that we need to look into so that it will be easier for us to investigate when there are related cases involving POGO employees.”
In the meantime, Azurin revealed he has ordered additional police be deployed to areas where POGO operations are centered, namely Parañaque, Pasay and Makati.
According to PNP data, there have been 27 cases of kidnapping reported nationwide this year, of which 15 were POGO-related and one “casino-related.” By comparison, there were 12 POGO-related kidnappings in 2021.
POGO-related kidnappings typically involve the abduction of workers by colleagues for failing to pay a debt.
“Upon arrival (in the Philippines), their passports are confiscated and they will be confined (by their superiors) in an area,” said PNP spokesperson, Col. Jean Fajardo.
“And when they fail to pay for travel, which is supposed to be all expenses paid, or are found stealing from games proceeds, they are detained and tortured. They will only be released only if their family pays.
“The possibility of deploying fixed mobile and foot patrol in the vicinity of POGO establishments is being considered to make sure we will lessen, if not totally stop, POGO-related abduction cases.”