Former Duterte economic adviser Michael Yang is at risk of losing his license after his company was among three Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) tagged for alleged kidnapping.
Yang’s licensed POGO – the Bacoor-based Xionwei Technology Co. Ltd. Inc. – was involved in five of the seven kidnapping cases reported by Colonel Rodolfo Castil Jr., Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group chief.
Castil said another POGO licensee, Pampanga-based Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Inc., was tagged in the kidnapping of one person.
The third company, Cavite-based L-Y Group Admin Pogo Company, which has no license, was identified behind the alleged abduction of five individuals rescued by the PNP in one operation.
Castil said the three firms were kidnapping Chinese nationals working from other staff due to a shortage in their manpower since China imposed travel restrictions during the pandemic.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said an inter-agency task force was formed after President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. expressed alarm over the rise of POGO-related kidnapping cases and other illegal activities since the start of 2022.
Tengco said Pagcor’s goal was to go after illegal POGO players as well as licenses involved in criminal activities.
“The information we received is that these alarming incidents of kidnapping came from the ranks of illegal operators. While it will be a challenge to all participating agencies, the good thing is that we are receiving information as to where these illegal operations are located. With the help of everybody, we will be able to zero-in immediately,” Tengco said.
Tengco said licensed POGO operators have committed to respond to Marcos’ concerns “policing their own ranks.”
“First, they (POGOs) are now going to ask their people to contain themselves in an area for safety and security purposes. Second, they will come up with an updated list of their employees because some have already resigned. Third, we will require them to submit a police clearance together with their application for an offshore gaming license employment (OGEL) ID. At least, those who apply, alam natin na malinis ang kanilang record,” Tengco said.
Tengco warned that if POGO-related crimes are not stopped, Pagcor might not only cancel the licenses of misbehaving POGO operators, but shut down the entire industry as well.
Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos said his main goal was to stop the human trafficking in the industry.
“The problem is, those who are no longer working in legitimate POGO operations, kung saan-saan nagpupunta,” said Abalos.
Abalos gave authorities up to two weeks to abate all POGO- related illegal activities in the country.