By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

POGO PROBE. PNP chief Gen. Rommel Marbil (right) and Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. hold a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City on Monday (June 24, 2024). Marbil said Police Regional Office (PRO)-3 (Central Luzon) chief Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo Jr. is under investigation for his accountability over the illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators in the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – Police Regional Office (PRO)-3 (Central Luzon) chief Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo Jr. is under investigation for his accountability over the illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in his area of jurisdiction, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil said Monday.

This came following incidents of “unreported killings” that allegedly happened in these POGO hubs which were found to be operating as “scam farms”, Marbil said in a press conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“We are investigating rin yung (also the) regional director doon sa mga yan, ang mga reports na hindi naaksyunan mabuti (because these reports were not acted upon properly). We put accountability on our regional directors,” he said.

He said this is among the factors for the relief of the entire roster of personnel of the Bamban, Tarlac Municipal Police Station, the chief of police of Porac, Pampanga and the director of the Pampanga Police Provincial Office.

“Hindi kasi siya normal eh. Sa ibang bagay, bakit may mga foreigners na may namamatay na doon and dapat from there on dapat inimbestigahan nila. Dapat inaalam nila (This is not normal. Another thing is that why are there foreigners dying there and from there on they should investigate it. They should look into it),” Marbil said.

He said they do not consider these police officials as “protectors” of POGOs.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) director Maj. Gen. Leo Francisco, meanwhile, said they have seen a connection between the raided POGO hubs in Central Luzon.

“We are in the process of applying a warrant regarding computer data and upon completion of these processes we will give you the result of the examination of these computers and other equipment in Porac,” he said.

LGUs’ watch

Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. directed the PNP and local government units to work together in curbing illegal POGOs.

Abalos, citing data from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), said only 43 legal POGOs are operating in Kawit, Cavite and Metro Manila.

He also acknowledged the possibility that money from illegal POGO operations may be used by some politicians for their election campaign.

“All of these things could possibly affect an election, it could, this is why the PNP is here. If you will look into it, this is not just against illegal POGOs, it’s also against drugs, e-sabong, jueteng, all of these things, because whether we like it or not, these things happen,” he said.

Bamban Mayor Alice Guo was earlier suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman over charges of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service filed by the DILG for her alleged links to the Zun Yuan Technology Inc., which was raided by authorities in March.

On June 5, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission and the CIDG raided Lucky South 99 in Porac, which resulted in the arrest of at least 186 foreign and Filipino workers. (PNA)