Gatchalian seeks probe on Pasay POGO hub

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has sought a Senate investigation into the recently raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Pasay City where an alleged torture chamber was discovered.

“I filed a resolution to investigate the Pasay City raid. Hopefully, this will be tackled within the week by the committee,” Gatchalian said in a Monday statement.

Last week, authorities raided the said POGO hub following reports of illegal activities, including sex trafficking, love, and crypto scams.

They also discovered various torture devices inside a room, including heavy-duty tasers, airsoft guns, baseball bats, and a wooden club. Also seen were several handcuffs attached to a metal bar on a wall.

“It is obvious that organized criminal syndicates are already operating in our country as evidenced by the human trafficking victims and even the torture chamber,” Gatchalian said.

“These syndicates have already corrupted our enforcers, enabling them to operate freely even beside the police station,” he added.

Authorities also rescued seven Filipinos and two foreign nationals.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos had ordered an investigation on the city’s police chief and the police officers of a nearby substation, saying it was unlikely that policemen were unaware of what was transpiring nearby.

In a separate interview, Pasay Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano said the illegal facilities at the hub were not yet present when inspected in August.

The hub contained facilities such as an entertainment center, KTVs, canteens, barber shops, restaurants, and a spa with dubious “services.”

“Bago po kami magbigay ng mga permits, syempre nag i-inspect po kami doon sa mga areas. At ito ay nag apply lang last August. Ininspect po ito for gaming purposes at wala po nung mga nakitang mga KTV, mga restaurant,” Calixto-Rubiano said.

(Before we give out permits, we inspect the areas. This hub applied for a permit last August. Authorities inspected it for gaming purposes, and they did not see any KTVs or restaurants.)

“Nagulat lang ako na ‘yun nga po, sinabi na meron nang KTV, meron nang restaurant, etc. etc. Kaya agad-agad pinapuntahan ko po sa team at ininspeksyon. At nung nakakita nga po na may mga KTV doon, restaurant, agad agad din pong ni-revoke ang kanilang permit,” she later added.

(I was surprised when I was told it now has a KTV and a restaurant. I immediately ordered the team to inspect it. And when they discovered the KTV and the restaurant, we immediately revoked their permit.)

The mayor said that even before the raid, the Pasay government already revoked the permits of 26 POGO hubs and urged them to reapply. She said nine POGO hubs, including the recently raided one, complied.

“Sa mga gusto pang mag operate or mag open ng gaming dito po sa Pasay, talagang we do not allow illicit activities at hindi po kami nag bibigay ng mga permit pagka mga illegal ang mga gawain,” Calixto-Rubiano said.

(To those who want to operate or open a gaming hub here in Pasay, we really don’t allow illicit activities, and we don’t give out permits to illegal activities.) — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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