Ex-official in PDAF scam linked to POGO ops — Hontiveros

Mark Ernest Villeza - Philstar.com
Ex-official in PDAF scam linked to POGO ops � Hontiveros
This undated handout photograph received from Philippines' Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) on March 14, 2024 shows a police officer (front, center) talking to foreign nationals after a raid in a 10-hectare (25-acre) complex of buildings in Bamban town of Tarlac province, north of Manila. Hundreds of people forced to work in an online scam centre in the Philippines were rescued in a pre-dawn raid on March 14 that also saw eight suspects arrested, according to police. Police found 432 Chinese nationals, 371 Filipinos, 57 Vietnamese, eight Malaysians, three Taiwanese, two Indonesians and two Rwandans at the site.
Photo by Philippines' Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday sounded the alarm over a reported link of a former government official convicted and sentenced to a 26-year jail term for his involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam – considered the largest corruption scandal the country has ever seen – to Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) operations.

Hontiveros vowed to summon at the next hearing convicted former Technology and Resource Center deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, whose name cropped up following the raids on POGOs in Bamban town in Tarlac and Porac town in Pampanga.

“We will invite Mr. Cunanan to the next hearing to clarify his involvement. When there is POGO, there is a connection to a scam. As I said, all POGOs are bad. There is no differentiation between bad POGO or good POGO. It seems that POGOs are deliberately tapping former and present officials they can easily corrupt,” the senator added.

Hontiveros, who leads the inquiry into the participation of Guo in POGO scam operations, stressed that influencing public officials is part of POGOs’ strategy to continue their criminal activities in the country.

She revealed documents that show Cunanan acting as an “authorized representative” for Hongsheng in Bamban as well as Lucky South 99 in Porac. She added that Cunanan was sentenced to 26 years for the PDAF scam.

“Cunanan figured in one of the largest corruption scandals our country has ever seen. Maybe he also applied what he did in PDAF to POGOs. It also shows that Bamban and Porac POGO are really connected. It seems the scammers are together,” Hontiveros said.

She added that POGO operators might be taking advantage of the country’s weakness – corruption – and paid off some officials. She urged fellow government servants to work together to address corruption and ban POGOs. — Bella Cariaso, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Evelyn Macairan

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