The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) is closely monitoring 58 illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operating in various parts of the country, including Palawan.

PAOCC Spokesperson Winston John Casio, in an interview on June 15 in Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon, disclosed that these illegal POGOs are concentrated in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. But rampant operations have also been monitored in Palawan, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“Sa ibinigay sa ating dokumento ng Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) last year, mayroon tayong nakita na 402 cancelled license—a good number of them have transitioned into scam farms. Sa isa [pang] listahan na nakita namin, mula sa PAGCOR, meron kaming namataan, na evaluate na 58 scam farms na active,” Casio said.

“Asan sila? Nagkalat sila—they’re in Mindanao, they’re in the Visayas, they’re even in Palawan. But the great bulk of them are concentrated in Metro Manila, in Central Luzon, and in Calabarzon,” he added.

The PAOCC spokesperson further explained that the number of currently operating scam farms could vary significantly, ranging from as few as 58 to as many as 402, with an estimated median around 300.

Casio noted that calls to cease POGO operations in the country are currently regarded as a policy question that they are leaving for policymakers to address.

Their primary concern in law enforcement, he explained, is to identify areas where crimes are being committed, and if evidence warrants, then they would operate against them.

From a law enforcement perspective, Casio stated that closing down operations abruptly might not be effective, as evidenced by the situation with the 402 permits that were cancelled but many operations continued.

He said that there should be careful consideration first on how to effectively shut down POGOs without them just operating under the radar, as it would pose a greater problem to the country if that were the case.

“If we totally ban them, pero wala tayong mekanismo, kung paano natin sila made-deport, paano natin makukuha yong mga equipment nila, at paano natin mapo-forfeit yong mga criminal proceeds nila. Kinakailangan na upuan ito ng mga policymakers,” he said.

On June 4, PAOCC, together with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Special Action Force, and local police, conducted a raid at the Lucky South 99 compound along Friendship Highway in Angeles City. A total of 158 foreigners, comprising Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysians, Myanmar nationals, and Korean workers, were rescued alongside 29 Filipinos.

Another raid took place on June 10, also in Pampanga, where authorities discovered Chinese military uniforms and insignias, raising suspicions that some individuals might be embedded soldiers from China.