EDITORIAL — Now it’s happening here

The Freeman
EDITORIAL � Now it�s happening here

Last month authorities rescued over a thousand human trafficking victims who were allegedly forced to work in a bogus call center in Mabalacat, Pampanga, that was actually targeting people abroad to invest in a cryptocurrency scheme. We thought it wouldn’t get bigger than this, but we were wrong.

The other day an estimated 2,724 people were rescued from a similar operation in Metro Manila.

Police said they raided several buildings in a compound and rescued the said individuals consisting of Chinese, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Pakistanis, Cameroonians, Sudanese, Myanmarese, and also Filipinos.

Police Captain Michelle Sabino, a spokeswoman for the PNP anti-cybercrime unit, said the victims were tricked into working in the operation after they were enticed by ads offering jobs to players of online games.

That one incident last month could have been a one-off thing, and that operation could have been dismissed as the only one of its kind in the country. But now there is more than one and there could be many more all over the country. It is also quite possible we have become one of those locations in Southeast Asia that are attractive to syndicates that run such operations.

While details of the investigation into this latest operation have yet to be revealed, we cannot help but smell the involvement of illegal offshore gaming operations in this latest incident.

These operations, which have become so numerous and prevalent here, can be used to build the foundation of operations here involving cryptocurrency or lonely hearts scams. The setup they require, the equipment they use, and the personnel they employ are certainly similar, so it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say their bosses or the syndicates behind them might be the same.

Filipinos don’t even have to go abroad anymore to be detained against their will and forced to work under inhumane conditions in an illegal operation. It’s sad that now it can happen to them even in their own country.

Find the illegal offshore gaming operations and you will likely find more of these victims of human trafficking.

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