Police arrest 44 Chinese nationals and 9 Filipinos in illegal online gambling raids

Bailey Haun
by Bailey Haun

This past Saturday, April 25th of 2020, the CNN Philippines branch reported that 44 Chinese nationals and 9 Filipinos were arrested in an illegal online gambling raid that occurred in the Philippine capital Manila in the city of Paranaque city. According to the reports, the raid was carried out by combined elements of the Regional Special Operation Unit (RSOU), the Southern Police District (SPD), and the Paranaque police. The police reported the arrest of 14 Chinese women, 30 Chinese men, and 9 male Filipinos, they also reported seizing P1,335010 (about $26,374,47) in cash, 73 passports, three calibers .45 pistols, two 9mm pistols, nine internet modems, 17 computers, 36 laptops, and 400 cellphones. According to cnnphilippines.com, the police operation was made possible by an anonymous informant. A report published by Joseph Calleja on eurasiareview.com appears a declaration made by the Paranaque police chief Robin Sarmiento, they visited the facilities to check a report that documented the legal activities occurring inside that building, according to Sarmiento the documents revealed that the Chinese nationals had no permits to operate in the Paranaque district. “When we were about to verify if they were really armed as reported to us, they ran inside the building in which the police caught individuals still operating” declaration by Paranaque police Chief Robin Sarmiento. Eurasiareview.com has also mentioned that most of these illegal Chinese nationals are linked to a system of online casino gambling known as the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO). The POGO is also associated with not only cybercrimes (such as running and operating illegal casinos) but with crimes such as prostitution, illegal drugs, money laundering, and kidnapping.

What does the government say about this situation?

Harry Roque, the presidential spokesman claimed on April 21 that these operators provide financial resources to President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, according to a declaration made by Roque the “POGOs are part of an industry that provides the president and our government with cash resources. Our question will be what risk does the reopening of the POGO industry pose”. Additionally, The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chair and Chief executive officer Andrea Domingo said the POGO is operating illegally and not registered with PAGCOR. The results of this raid angered Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez to make a declaration where he issued an order to ban entry in the city of all 44 Chinese nationals who were arrested during the raid. According to an online Pilipino journal (journal.com.ph), Olivarez requested the Bureau of Immigration to deport “as soon as possible” the Chinese nationals who were using Filipino dummies to operate the illegal POGO when the government imposed enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 threat. On philstar.com you can find a declaration made by the City Mayor Edwin Olivares where he adds the following information to the case: “The suspects claimed that they are workers of Skyluck Corp., Skydragon Global Technology, Dragon Wealth System and Dragon Global, but upon verification, none of these companies are registered in Paranaque”.

What Philippine citizens think

A comment made by a Philippian citizen under the username “Haven Probably” indicated that the number of cellphones seized (400) might indicate that the real operation was pro-Communist instead of a POGO operation. “400 cell phones? [...] that’s a pro-Communist China/DDS troll farm; NOT a POGO operation. The huge number of cellphones (with thousands of SIM cards most probably) are being used to create and manage multiple Facebook, Disqus, and other social media accounts to sway public opinion”. Posted by the user “Heavenly Probably” on the Philstar global website on April 25th. Another comment posted on the Philstar Global platform shows the discontent with the administration of Andrea Domingo (chair and Chief executive officer of PAGCOR); the comment was posted on April 25 by the user "derman123" and reads as follows: "[…] This goes to show she (Andrea Domingo) is incapable and unfit to run Pagcor and should resign and be replaced by qualified people to take care of the agency". If you consider the lack of information reported by official news portals like cnn.philipines.com these kinds of theories will rise sooner or later amongst the Philippian population, and whether they are true or not will be determined only by time.

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