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Over 300 illegal POGOs in Philippines, says PAOCC

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is host to more than 300 illegal Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) hubs in various parts of the country, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said yesterday.

“There are about 300-plus illegal POGO hubs,” Cruz said in an interview with “Storycon” on One News. “According to Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.), only around 48 or 49 registered with them and secured an IGL or internet gaming license.”

“The rest of the 300-plus did not register… Since last year, they are operating without a license,” he added.

Cruz bared the extent of the problem as PAOCC continues with its search of the more than 40 POGO hubs that it raided last week in Porac, Pampanga.

“So far, we have already searched 18 buildings. We still have to search 25 more buildings,” Cruz said.

At least four sets of military uniforms were found during the raid, some of which have the initials PLA, which authorities suspect stands for the People’s Liberation Army, the armed component of the Chinese Communist Party.

The PAOCC is verifying the authenticity of Chinese military uniforms as these may have been used to threaten their POGO subjects.

“They may have just bought it from a military surplus shop. Since we have seen emergency tags, we have to check it. Emergency tag contains blood type, names and the service that the owner of the uniform belongs to. We have to verify that to our counterpart agencies in other countries,” Cruz said, referring to China.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed belief yesterday that the Chinese military uniforms found may just be props.

“The limited number of PLA uniforms found suggests they are more indicative of use in deceptive activities rather than any preparation for an invasion,” AFP spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said.

Investigators also discovered equipment used for scams, as well as torture rooms and illegal drugs.

“The torture equipment that we are referring to are baseball bat, retractable baton, steel, blazers that you might think are batons but with electric on its end point,” Cruz said.

He said they have persons of interest,