Suspected Chinese military gear raises security concerns

Suspected Chinese military gear found in Pogo raid raises security concerns

/ 01:10 PM June 11, 2024

ROGUE’ COMPANY Wednesday’s raid not only tried to dismantle an alleged human trafficking operation but also revealed the vastness of the private property where the questionable online gaming hub had thrived. —Photos by Jun A. Malig

ROGUE’ COMPANY Wednesday’s raid not only tried to dismantle an alleged human trafficking operation but also revealed the vastness of the private property where the questionable online gaming hub had thrived. —Photo by Jun A. Malig

MANILA, Philippines — Suspected Chinese military uniforms and pins found on the raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo) firm in Porac, Pampanga have raised serious concerns about national security.

In a Viber message to reporters on Monday,  Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the three sets of People’s Liberation Army uniforms and some military pins discovered are “clear evidence that Pogos are a national security threat to our nation.”

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All Pogos are bad

“It has opened the doors, not only to criminal syndicates, but also to those who want to destabilize and infiltrate our governmental and political institutions. This is another reason why the administration should no longer allow them to operate in our country,” said Gatchalian.

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READ: Gatchalian bares possible clout of Chinese criminals in PH judiciary

All Pogos are bad

For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the implications of these uniforms should send chills down Filipinos’ spine.

According to her, the discovery of these uniforms only proves the information shared by intelligence agencies that there are credible links between Pogos and foreign intelligence assets.

“Someone is hellbent on compromising our sovereignty,” said Hontiveros in a statement.

“It is so clear that every Pogo has exploited our economic vulnerabilities and that Pogos have now evolved into a breeding ground for crime and a national security threat. All Pogos are bad,” she emphasized.

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Hontiveros then signified her intention to file a bill that would repeal Republic Act No. 11590 which was signed into law by then-President Rodrigo Duterte.

The law amended the National Internal Revenue Code to improve the collection of taxes from Pogos and impose more taxes aside from the franchise tax on their operations.

‘Clear and present danger’

Senator Robin Padilla, on the other hand, said the discovery of such clothing means there is a “clear and present danger” to Filipinos.

This then prompted Padilla to renew his call for strengthened law enforcement at the local level.

“Kasi pag di natin naging kakampi ang local at local nakikipaglaban sa national paano ipapatupad ang batas? Walang mangyayari mga kababayan ko. Kailangan nagkaroon ng coordination ang political power sa mga local na government para nagkakaintindihan tayo. Paano nakakapasok yan diyan? Paano nakakapasok yan diyan paano nakapagtayo yan nang di nyo alam?” he said.

(Because if the local is not on our side and the local is fighting with the national, how will the law be enforced? Nothing will happen to my countrymen. There needs to be coordination between the political power in the local governments so that we can understand each other. How does that get in there? How did it get in there, how did it build this firm without us knowing?)

‘Investigate it’

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said whether it be genuine of mere props, the pieces of alleged PLA uniforms found in the raided Pogo hub in Porac, Pampanga serve as a strong indication that the extent of scams perpetrated by Pogo operators is beyond comprehension.

“Anong klaseng online scam ang nangangailangan ng props gamit ang uniporme ng PLA? Tanging Chinese nationals lamang ang nakakakilala ng Chinese military uniforms dahil batid naman siguro ng marami nating mga kababayan ang gamit ng mga miyembro ng sangay ng ating Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Estrada.

The senator, who also chairs the Senate panel on national defense, emphasized that this should not be disregarded. He said there is a need to determine why such pieces of clothing are in the Pogo hub.

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Apart from the uniforms and pins, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) said identification cards of a foreigner bearing different names was among what was discovered in the Pampanga Pogo hub.

PAOCC Spokesperson Winston John Casio called this a disturbing discovery.

Authorities, on the other hand, said they were able to rescue more than 190 foreign and Filipino workers in the complex. It was initially raided due to reports that it was being used for human trafficking, with some of the foreign employees allegedly tortured or sold for sex.

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TAGS: Philippine Senate, POGO

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