Legal counsel demands police to leave POGO office premises

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‘NO’ TO POGOS. Valenzuela City Mayor Wes Gatchalian holds a press conference announcing the prohibition of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and other Illegal gambling activities in Valenzuela City.  Andrew Rabulan

A lawyer representing Xinchuang Network Technologies has demanded that Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel vacate the Philippine offshore gaming operator’s (POGO) offices in Las Piñas City.

The POGO also demanded that the police return seized items and pay damages following a raid authorities conducted last week, or face a lawsuit.

In a letter dated July 3 to the chiefs of the National Capital Region Police Office, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, and PNP Directorate for Intelligence, lawyer Ananias Christian Vargas gave the police 24 hours to vacate the premises.

‘NO’ TO POGOS. Valenzuela City Mayor Wes Gatchalian holds a press conference announcing the prohibition of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and other Illegal gambling activities in Valenzuela City.  Andrew Rabulan

Vargas said it has been more than a week since authorities “stormed” the premises and their “continued commandeering” of the offices was “an illegal disruption of my client’s operations and deprivation of business and property without due process of law.

Vargas noted that by the time they received his letter, it would be at least 7 days “since you stormed the premises of my client… on mere suspicion of acts of human trafficking through online means.”

It also was “an arbitrary and illegal detention of the persons that you continue to hold hostage therein,” Vargas said, referring to over 2,000 workers who were at the offices when the PNP raided the firm.

The PNP meanwhile said its agents would vacate the premises of the raided establishment in Las Piñas City once they have completed the processing of pieces of evidence on the site.

PNP chief information officer BGen. Redrico Maranan, on Tuesday, said the process will take some time due to thousands of computer sets being examined, aside from other sets of evidence found at Xinchuang Network Technology, Inc.

“The PNP is acting under the authority of valid search warrants issued by the court. As of now, continuous search and processing of evidence is being undertaken,” Maranan said.

The PNP official also assured the public that they will immediately vacate the premises once the investigation and profiling of persons still under custody is completed.

“The same principle applies to the equipment seized during the operation,” he added.

Vargas said the police had conducted and concluded inquest proceedings on Xinchuang workers, “foreign nationals that you randomly picked from among those whom you continuously detain within the premises of our client,” by June 30.

This was despite the foreign POGO workers were not among those named in the search and seizure warrants to examine the firm’s computer data dated June 26 that the PNP served, which Vargas said was a procedural lapse that will be “the subject of a different proceeding.” With Vince Lopez