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Recruited POGO worker sold twice ‘like a slave’


BY AARON RECUENCO


A Taiwanese who went to the country to work for an online gaming company was turned into a “POGO work slave” after he was sold to at least two groups running a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO).

Wu Keng-Hao was rescued on Tuesday, March 2, when operatives of the police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) raided a hotel where he was kept by his captors in Parañaque City.

Wu told the police that he was lured to apply to work for POGO through a social media account of Chinese firm Yinghuang Yule which promises a 13,000 Renminbi (P97,000) monthly salary.

He said he arrived on February 26 but was taken by his supposed employers to a budget hotel in Pasay City for a mandatory quarantine.

On the same day, a Filipino employee of the Yinghuang Yule tried to fetch him for swab testing but he said he refused as he noticed that there was something wrong since his itinerary was something that was not agreed upon.

Two days later, he was fetched by a group of Chinese who told him that he had a new employer since the company that recruited him already sold him to another POGO company for 30,0000 Renminbi (roughly P225,000).

On March 1, he was again fetched by another group of Chinese who also told him that he was sold anew for 30,000 Renminbi. This time, the POGO company was identified as 3+7 Company, a POGO firm located in Parañaque City.

It was then that the Taiwanese was able to make contact with his relatives who in turn sought the assistance of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. It was TECO officials who informed the AKG about the ordeal of Wu.

Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo said that they immediately raided the area after confirming the presence of the victim in a budget hotel in Parañaque City and was able to rescue the Taiwanese.

“He was alone inside the room and that there was no guard in the area,” said Estomo.

Estomo said that a background check revealed that the hotel where the Taiwanese was rescued is a quarantine facility of a POGO company for their arriving employees from China and nearby countries.

The operation of POGO in the country has sparked kidnapping cases in Metro Manila and Central Luzon in the past years.

The modus is that POGO companies would encourage Chinese and Taiwanese to work in the Philippines but would give them a salary which is very low compared to what was agreed upon.

When the victims would refuse, they would kidnap them and force their relatives to pay.

Lt. Col. Ronaldo Lumactod, AKG spokesman, said the case of Wu was not the first time they encountered.

“They have been doing this for a long time now. They would sold either their new recruits or old employees to other POGO companies,” Lumactod said.

“It’s like a slave trade,” he added.

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