Human trafficking is a serious crime mandating legal action. Now POGOs (the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) is taking center stage. The country’s senate is hearing testimony.
Apparently, there are stories of forced labor related by Taiwanese expats. Now the entire industry could be shut down.
Lai Yu Cian appeared before a senate committee and shared her story of being tricked to work for a POGO while losing her freedoms.
“They wanted me to work for 24 hours, treating me like a slave… I already told them that I wanna go home to Taiwan but they forced me to work for them. They told me that they have a protector behind them, which are government people.”
The Senate’s focus isn’t government corruption but protecting the victims of the industry.
According to Senator Risa Hotiveros,
“Right now our main concern is the humanitarian aspect. We haven’t gone to the checking of identities.”
Lai arrived in the Philippines on October 1, 2019 and was quickly given a job in a POGO firm, losing her passport to the employer.
“I did not know it was an illegal business. I knew nothing. The only thing I knew is I wanna have a job.”
She was forced to stay in hostile work environment, with threats of repercussions if she tried to leave. She testified that in the company were also Chinese nationals. Her boss threatened if anyone went to NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), their families in China will be in danger.
Lai was one of the 30 east Asian rescued by a February 3 raid of a Mandaluyong POGO firm. Four Mainland Chinese nationals were arrested in the process.
Senator Hontiveros is wants to push back against illegal POGO operations, specifically those involved with human trafficking.
“Many crimes are tied to POGOs: illegal recruitment, illegal detention and sexual harassment. This has to stop.”
Revealing statistics of POGOs
Everything comes out in the wash. Senator Joel Villanueva revealed POGOs were employing 80% foreign employees.
Furthermore, a Bureau of Internal Revenue employee revealed that 50 of the 60 licensed POGOs had failed to pay their franchise taxes to the tune of PHP 50 billion ($990 million).
The data is prompting Villanueva to call for total suspension of operations.
“I think the bottom line of what happened speaks for itself. Suspend all Pogo operations until we can determine how to properly regulate them, until our government agencies get a grip on the situation.”
He has considerable grounds, stating that all of the alleged illegal activity that has come to light, combined with suspicious hiring practices, have proven the government has failed to properly regulate the industry.
The case of Ms. Lai is a clear example of that failure. But is the industry good for the country nonetheless, which is the view of some like President Rodrigo Duterte.