Philippines police find 28,000 SIM cards in POGO raid

The registered SIM cards were found in a POGO hub in Pasay City.
The registered SIM cards were found in a POGO hub in Pasay City.

Authorities believe the SIMs were being used for scams.

The Philippines.- Police have seized 28,000 registered SIM cards in a raid at a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) in Pasay City suspected of being linked to online scams. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has raised concerns about the scale of the discovery and whether Republic Act 11934, or the SIM Registration Act, effectively combats such scams.

According to Abs-Cbn, justice secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla voiced concerns about the number of SIM cards found, noting that the objective of the SIM Card Registration Act was to ensure verifiability and deter unlawful usage. Remulla said he will be seeking help from telecommunications companies.

He emphasised the complexity of the issue, and said that the Department of Justice intends to scrutinise whether the present legal framework adequately addresses the scenario or requires amendments. The examination will encompass violations such as SIM card spoofing and misrepresentation. For spoofing, six years in jail and/or a fine of PHP200,000 can currently be imposed, while providing false or fictitious information to register a SIM can result in imprisonment from six months to two years and/or a fine ranging from PHP100,00 to PHP300,000.

The law also punishes failure to register a SIM, breaches of confidentiality, whether intentional or due to negligence and the sale or transfer of a SIM without compliance with registration requirements.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the immediate release of four Chinese workers who were arrested during a raid on a gambling operator in Las Piñas City. Authorities seized more than 80,000 SIM cards there, but Remulla said they did not pursue the SIM Registration Act violation then.

The four workers had presented a habeas corpus petition contending that they were unlawfully detained. Some 2,714 people were rescued in the raid, including 1,534 identified as Filipinos and foreign workers from different parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

See also: Proposed POGO ban could lead to tax hikes, says Philippine senator

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