By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – The police chief of Porac town in Pampanga has been relieved from his post following the raid on a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) facility in the area.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame Thursday, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the move is to give way to the investigation into the local police’s failure to detect the facility’s illegal operations.

Investigation showed that the POGO has been operating without a license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), she added.

“Sa ibinigay sa information na nitong May 22, 2024 yung Lucky South 99 was duly informed by the PAGCOR na yung kanilang application to operate as an internet gaming establishment ay dineny (Based on the information that we got, on May 22, 2024, the Lucky South 99 was duly informed by the PAGCOR that their application to operate as an internet gaming establishment was denied). So we were informed that late last year ay nag expire na yung kanilang license to operate as POGO (their license to operate as POGO has also expired),” Fajardo added.

She added that the investigation would also look into the possible lapses of the concerned local government unit on this matter.

Fajardo, meanwhile, said they are also verifying reports that information on the POGO raid was leaked, which resulted in the escape of many other employees and officials of the facility.

“The Chief PNP (Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil) has ordered an investigation as to whether there was a leak of information or none. Since nandun na yung presence ng ilang mga personnel, siguro nabulabog yung andun nakita nila may mga pulis natin (Because of the presence of our personnel, it could also be that some who were at the area were alarmed),” she added.

Only 158 foreigners, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians, Myanmar and Korean workers, together with 29 Filipinos were caught during the operation mounted by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Special Action Force (SAF) and the local police at the Lucky South 99 compound on Tuesday night.

The raid was carried out by virtue of a search warrant issued by the Malolos City Bulacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14, which stemmed from video footage obtained by the PAOCC from informants stating that a female foreigner was sexually trafficked in the area while male foreigners were tortured.

Fajardo, however, maintained that the operation was legal as they were not immediately informed about the court’s “reversal” of the warrant for an unknown reason.

“So at that time of June 4, they are armed with a valid SW (search warrant) issued by the Malolos RTC. However, yesterday (Wednesday), we were informed na na-reverse (that it was reversed), that’s why they failed to reimplement that warrant,” she said.

Fajardo said SAF commandos have been deployed to guard the facility for a further search, which would start once the CIDG has secured a new search warrant from the court. (PNA)