Nineteen officers are suspected of having been involved in a scheme to bring in illegal workers for POGOs.
Philippines.- The National Bureau of Investigation is to prosecute 19 immigration officers suspected of having run a clandestine escort service to bring in Chinese nationals to work illegally for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).
It comes after a five-month probe that concluded that 19 immigration officers had violated the antigraft law, Republic Act No. 3019.
Liya Wu, owner of Empire International Travel and Tours, will also face prosecution.
The scandal emerged when it was discovered that a Chinese national named Risa Hontiveros had allegedly paid P10,000 in order to smoothly enter the Philippines to work for a POGO, in an operation that was named “Pastillas.”
Immigration officers allegedly kept P2,000 while the other 8,000 allegedly went to POGO operators and syndicates who would transport her from the airport to POGO facilities.
Another Taiwanese woman who had been hired illegally told the investigation she was transferred to a POGO facility where her passport was seized. She claims she was then held captive in a prostitution den until she was rescued by authorities.
In a statement, the immigration bureau welcomed the charges against its officers, saying they would be given the “opportunity to defend themselves in the proper forum”.
Aside from the investigation, Philippine legislators are trying to pass a law to regulate POGOs’ foreign workers.