Emmanuel Tupas – The Philippine Star
October 29, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Over 700 suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued from two Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms moonlighting as sex dens in Pasay City on Friday night.
Personnel from the Department of Justice, Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) and Philippine National Police raided a building at the corner of Harrison and William streets at around 9:45 p.m.
PAOCC executive director Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said the operation was based on a search warrant issued by a court against the POGOs, which were found to be operating illegally as their licenses had been revoked by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp.
Nine people believed to be top executives of the POGO firms were apprehended.
Cruz said 731 foreigners and Filipinos were rescued from the building, including seven Filipina women who were required to be in an aquarium-style viewing chamber.
When lawmen went inside, Cruz said two Chinese workers approached the operatives and revealed they were victims of kidnapping. They even showed torture marks on their bodies as proof.
“Torture devices have also been recovered on the fourth floor,” Cruz said in a message on Viber.
One of the victims said he was kidnapped and sold for P500,000. The other man, meanwhile, revealed he has been held for more than a year and forced to work 12 to 15 hours a day.
Condoms and other sexual paraphernalia were also recovered in a massage parlor.
A KTV bar with eight karaoke rooms was also found in the building’s ground floor. A pharmacy with a doctor and two patient beds were also found.
Nine vaults that contained an unspecified amount of cash believed to be proceeds from human trafficking activities were secured. — Nillicent Bautista