Staff members of online gambling operators in the Philippines have been arrested for their involvement with prostitution rings.
POGOs Caught with Prostitutes
Over the course of the past month, three raids were carried out by the National Bureau of Investigation on prostitution dens that provide services to staff members of the Philippine Gaming Offshore Operators (POGO). Now, Precious Hipolito-Castelo, a Quezon City Representative, is insisting that authorities launch an investigation into the prostitution rings that cater to POGO workers.
“It is alarming that there are existing establishments in Metro Manila that cater exclusively to POGO workers, palpably demonstrating the situation that these workers are building a community in our country little by little,” she says.
This has been an ongoing issue for quite a while. Most recently, three people were arrested for operating a prostitution ring at an upscale hotel in Pasay. The alleged ringleaders were Liang Feng and Lu Fu Xing, and Chen Xun Bo of POGO was also arrested after being found engaging in sexual activities at the time.
It was reported that one of the rooms was used as a “viewing room”. The other three were where clients would sexually engage with the prostitutes. It is said that clients paid P5000 for 30 minutes of service.
Six women were rescued in the sting. The two leaders may face human trafficking charges as a result.
This is just one of several stings carried out by the NBI. Earlier on this month, the NBI rescued nearly 100 women from a high-end karaoke bar in Makati that was being used a front for a prostitution business. It is believed that many of the clients are POGO staff members.
Online Gambling Operators in the Philippines
If you’re unfamiliar with the situation regarding online gambling in the Philippines, POGOs are the firms that operate from within the county to provide gaming services to individuals living abroad. They have licenses to operate from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Currently, there are 56 POGOs in the Philippines that have obtained licenses from PAGCOR. More than 138,000 foreign nations are employed by POGOs and over half of them have work permits. Only 17% of individuals working for POGOs are actually Filipino nationals.
“This is one of the crimes related to POGO. When you bring a lot of them here, these syndicates cater to their needs”, says NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin.
So, while POGOs are bringing in valuable tax revenue to the Philippines, it seems that they are bringing crime with them. An investigation into the issue will determine the full extent of the POGOs firms involvement with prostitution rings.