A scheme involving immigration officers and foreign workers regarding Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) is under investigation. Reportedly, officers were smuggling foreign workers into the Philippines so they could work at the POGOs. A total of 19 officers face prosecution for their activities.
The NBI Special Action Unit chief, Emeterio Dongallo Jr. has asked for the officers to be suspended while the investigation is ongoing. He feels that interference may be an issue as investigations continue. Along with the officers, the Empire International Travel and Tours owner, Liya Wu, faces prosecution for corruption of public officials.
The BI wants to see the issue go to court as they want the officers to be able to defend themselves. They want to help get rid of corruption and make those who are responsible face the court of law. The charge is an antigraft law violation. The scheme was discovered earlier this year after a whistleblower testified in front of the Senate.
During the testimony, it was revealed that the POGOs paid $210 to officials for each employee they allowed passage into the country.
According to Eric Distor, the Acting NBI Director, this is not the end of the investigation. The whistleblower’s claims do have merit thus far, but he also wants to investigate other personalities. Distor stated that based on the evidence that has been gathered, including photos and video recordings, the subjects in the case committed a crime and should be held liable.
Senator Risa Hontiveros has been working hard on this investigation, pushing for charges. According to Hontiveros, as much as $210 million was collected by officials in bribes due to the scheme. It is unclear if that is total amount or an over estimation. Either way, the suspected officials now must face the court for their actions regarding the illegal activity.