PNP chief warns cops protecting illegal POGOs

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
PNP chief warns cops protecting illegal POGOs
Marbil instead urged police to keep their integrity amid the crackdown on POGOs.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil yesterday warned that police personnel found to be protectors of illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators will face appropriate disciplinary actions. 

Marbil instead urged police to keep their integrity amid the crackdown on POGOs.

He reminded PNP personnel that the policy of integrity serves as a reminder that engagement in such illegal activities would be dealt with accordingly.

“Integrity and accountability are the cornerstones of our public service. We remain committed to ensuring that our officers uphold these values,” Marbil said.

The PNP has recently intensified its efforts against illegal POGOs, resulting in several successful operations. 

Coordinated efforts led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) have dismantled multiple illegal POGO operations across the country. 

The PNP said these operations have led to numerous arrests, seizure of illicit equipment and significant disruption of unlawful activities, reinforcing the PNP’s dedication to dismantle illegal gambling.

Marbil commended the CIDG and ACG for their performance and pursuit of justice, stating that their strategic planning and effective execution have safeguarded the public and demonstrated the PNP’s capability to tackle complex criminal networks.

In support of these efforts, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos reaffirmed his backing of the PNP’s initiatives, highlighting the importance of integrity and accountability in law enforcement.

Meanwhile, amid the controversies surrounding POGOs, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is set to inspect the Lucky South 99 in Porac, Pampanga today at 10 a.m.

He will be assisted by officials from the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), headed by Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz.

The senator earlier warned governors, mayors and other local government officials that they could be held accountable for failing to monitor the illegal activities of POGOs operating in their respective areas.

Text scams

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary and Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) executive director Alexander Ramos said they are set to file complaints against errant telecommunication companies or telcos and their agents who failed to properly account for the thousands of unregistered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards being used to defraud the public. 

The CICC discovered that thousands of unregistered SIM cards are still being used in erring POGOs for text and online scam transactions and communications despite the enforcement of the SIM Card Registration Law.

Law enforcement authorities that clamped down on organized crime, including call center type operations or POGOs, recently seized thousands of SIM cards with various falsified identities and unregistered SIM cards used to defraud the public. 

A majority of the SIM cards used are prepaid Smart SIM cards. Other SIM cards seized on record with GCash accounts also include Globe prepaid cards. 

“It’s time for the government to get tough on these telcos,” Ramos stressed.

CICC will meet with the National Telecommunications Commission to share their findings.

Despite law enforcement efforts, Ramos said that some subscribers continue to receive scam messages from unregistered SIM cards. 

“Organized cybercrime syndicates have been using unregistered SIM cards and/or SIM cards with stolen identities to send fraudulent SMS with dangerous links,” he said. 

CICC is appealing to victims of text scams and other cybercrimes to call the Inter Agency Response Center hotline 1326. — Rainier Allan Ronda

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