PAGCOR cancels accreditation of Clark Pogo

IN a move that is seen to put the final nail to the coffin of human trafficking inside the Clark Freeport Zone, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has cancelled the accreditation of CGC Technologies Inc., a Philippine offshore gaming operator, for allegedly being involved in criminal activities.

PAGCOR also said that CGC Technologies Inc. had violated some conditions attached to its accreditation after it was found out that it was operating six buildings inside the Sun Valley Business Hub in Mabalacat, Pampanga, when it was accredited with only two.

PAGCOR has confirmed that CGC was involved in criminal activities and violated some conditions attached to its accreditation.

Cancellation of the license includes the forfeiture of CGC’s Performance Bond while Oriental Game Limited has been fined US$350,000 for having failed “to ensure the legitimate conduct of CGC’s business.”

The closure of CGC Technologies Inc. came shortly after joint elements of the Philippine National Police Anti Cybercrime Group and Bureau of Immigration have rescued 1,090 individuals – 919 foreign nationals and 171 Filipinos – during a raid at the Colorful and Leap Group Company in the Clark Sun Valley Hub last April 26.

The undocumented foreigners were allegedly forced to work in a “fraudulent cyber-enabled industry” that tend to victimize investors in cryptocurrencies.

Earlier, PAGCOR, the country’s gaming regulator, said it will cancel the licenses of any offshore gaming operators that engage in illegal activities after the raid at the Colorful and Leap Group Company for alleged credit card fraud, serious illegal detention and human trafficking activities.

CGC Technologies (CGC) was the subject of an inter-agency search operation in early May. The raiding team had confiscated more than 1,000 computers and devices from the site, which are currently subject to forensic investigation.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said he supported the decision to repatriate foreign nationals that had been rescued during the operation, which included Indonesians, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Chinese.

Said Tengco: “We will continuously subject our offshore gaming licensees and service providers to stricter monitoring.”

“PAGCOR will continue to work hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to ensure a safe and responsible gaming environment not only for Filipinos but also for other nationalities. Only through regulated and responsible gaming can we minimize, if not totally eradicate all crimes that are being linked to gaming activities.”

‘Abide by Philippine Laws’
Tengco said the cancellation of CGC Technologies Inc’s accreditation was a reminder that offshore gaming licensees and service providers must abide by Philippine laws.

“Continued operations despite the cancellation of their accreditation or licenses shall be considered illegal. Immediate action will be taken against those who are engaging in such,” according to Tengco.

“PAGCOR strongly advocates responsible gaming to curb all forms of social ills being linked to gaming. This is the reason why we continue to forge close partnership with other government agencies. Through proper regulation and cooperation with our law enforcement agencies, we will continue to ensure that revenues from regulated gaming will be used for more worthy causes, especially nation-building.”

PAGCOR had responded swiftly amid calls from some politicians for the government to crack down on the Pogo industry who are involve in human trafficking and other criminal activities.

Both Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Grace Poe had been working to have the Pogos operating inside the Clark Freeport Zone investigated after the rescue of undocumented aliens.

Sen. Gatchalian has lodged Senate Resolution No. 611 calling for an investigation into the alleged link between the Pogos and human trafficking inside the Clark Freeport Zone.

Gatchalian wants to stop the operations of Pogos in the country permanently noting that the “syndicates could be fronting as Pogos but are engaged in criminal activities such as human trafficking and scamming,”

Gatchalian said Pogos and their service providers involved in criminalities “smear the name of the Philippines in the international community, pose a threat to the peace and order in the country, and undermine the safety of the Filipinos and foreign nationals in the Philippines.”

“Based on the alarming increase of human trafficking incidents being linked to Pogos, there is a need to re-examine the framework of the Pogo operations in the Philippines, combat and stop the crimes linked to Pogos, close down the Pogos involved in the commission of these crimes, and arrest the persons behind it.”

The lawmaker wants an appropriate panel to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the operations of Pogos in the country.

Meanwhile, Sen. Poe has filed Senate Resolution No. 595 also calling for an investigation into the alleged human trafficking and cyber fraud operations at the Clark Sun Valley Hub Corporation inside Clark Freeport Zone.

“We need to uncover the true scale and roots of human trafficking in the country. This is an insidious crime that must stop,” said Poe.

Human trafficking had been rampant inside the Clark Freeport Zone since 2016, when some 1,300 illegal Chinese workers inside the leisure park had been rescued by the Bureau of Immigration. Fifteen casino rooms in Fontana Resorts were immediately closed during the raid.

In May 2020, an illegal underground hospital for tenants and Pogo workers was also discovered on Fontana’s premises. Fourteen foreigners — seven Chinese men, six Chinese women, and two Vietnamese women – who are allegedly involved in prostitution and human trafficking were also rescued by authorities in Fontana.

Probe unlicensed POGO outside Clark
Meanwhile, concerned residents have also ask Senators Gatchalian and Poe to investigate unlicensed POGOs outside the Clark Freeport Zone, who may be also employing undocumented aliens or involved in criminal activities.

PAGCOR should also go after these erring operators of online gaming activities, according to them who asked not to be named.