Updated figures released by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday revealed the dark side of the POGO industry as the number of cases of kidnapping linked to the industry rose year over year.
Increase in Kidnapping Cases Linked to POGOs
The PNP data showed that, out of 31 cases of kidnapping in the Philippines for the first nine months of 2022, 17 were related to POGO operations. For comparison, throughout the whole of 2021, total kidnapping cases were 36 of which only 12 were linked to the online gambling industry.
On the nationality of the victims of the POGO-related cases of kidnapping, the PNP stated that in the 17 cases so far victims were 19 Chinese nationals, a Vietnamese, a Malaysian, and a Taiwanese, while in 2021, cases included 20 victims of which 19 were Chinese nationals and one was from Vietnam.
PNP data confirming the rising trend of POGO-related crime came hot on the heels of media reports of an increase in kidnapping cases linked to online gambling operators. According to PAGCOR chairman and chief executive officer Alejandro Tengco, the issue is so serious and any failure of the industry to get on top of it may lead to the entire sector being shut down.
“If these kidnapping incidents and other illegal activities persist,” Tengco commented, outlining that the government would be left with no choice but to “cancel the licenses of POGO operators,” affecting the entire industry by “whatever decision will emanate.”
“So let us help each other solve these issues the soonest,” he concluded.
Tengco may not be that far from the truth in the background of a recent legislative proposal that, if passed into law, would impact the entire online gambling industry.
The new Anti-Online Gambling Act proposed by Senator Joel Villanueva seeks to impose strict penalties on individuals who use the internet for betting, justifying the loss of revenue from POGO operations by eliminating the negative industry’s impact on society.
Impact on Relations with China
The issue was in the focus of several government agencies last week after it became a threat to the country’s relations with China after the Chinese Ambassador in the Philippines Huang Xilian met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to request the government intensify the crackdown on illegal gambling operations.
China also offered to collaborate with the Philippine authorities as any form of gambling involving Chinese nationals is considered illegal.
Following the meeting, the Philippine government announced new measures against POGO operators that have their license expired or being revoked among which complete shutdown of operations and deportation of Chinese employees.