BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Philippine National Police reported yesterday that nine of the 17 kidnapping cases involving workers and casino players of POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) companies, have been solved.
Of the 17 POGO related kidnapping cases, PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin, in a press briefing said that one case has been marked as cleared, while seven others remain under investigation, aside from nine others that have already been solved.
Azurin commended the PNP Anti Kidnapping Group (PNP AKG) for the providing solutions to the kidnapping incidents. The PNP AKG is headed by PCol. Rodolfo Castil, former provincial police director of Negros Occidental, with PCol. Moises Villaceran, who used to be assigned at the defunct Police Regional Office 18 as Police Community Relations Officer, as his deputy.
He also welcomed the support of the Philippine Senate on the proposal of PNP to establish an efficient system of monitoring and identification of alien workers in the POGO industry, as well as the exercises of its visitorial powers, to inspect and account for security personnel and systems employed in POGO firms, some of whom have been reported to be active participants in some kidnapping and illegal detention complaints
To further bolster police investigative capacity in POGO-related incidents, we are seeking to forge a better understanding with concerned government agencies such as the Bureau of Immigration and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Azurin also said.
This is in line with operational plans to conduct on-the-spot records verification of foreigners and enforcement of applicable laws and local ordinances that regulate business operations, he added.
These incidents have led lawmakers, including Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin, to push for the banning of POGOs in the country.
Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, an anti-gambling advocate, also said that POGO companies must be banned since they bring more harm than good to the country.
In a statement, Abante said that the incidence of crime within POGO setups only proves that these businesses should be banned in the country.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government reported earlier the rescue of a kidnapped Chinese and 42 other foreign nationals who were involved in the POGO industry.*