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China uniforms being verified, says military

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The military and the police said they are determining the authenticity of the China People’s Liberation Army uniforms recovered from a POGO hub in Porac, Pampanga even as more lawmakers raised the alarm against possible POGO links to foreign spies.

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission said they are awaiting response from China to verify the authenticity of the seized uniforms.

“We need confirmation from our foreign counterparts…We don’t want to spread fake news. We need to validate first,” PAOCC Usec. Gilbert Cruz said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, however, said the discovery corroborates information shared by intelligence agencies establishing credible links between POGOs and foreign intelligence assets.

The implications of these uniforms, Hontiveros said, should “send chills down our spine.”

“Our intelligence agencies have for a long time conveyed their worries (of POGOs). So we are calling again on the President to order a total ban on POGO,” she said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Francel Padilla said the military uniforms may have been used as props for the physical and psychological torture of trafficking victims in the Lucky South 99 compound.

“The limited number of PLA uniforms found suggests they are more indicative of use in deceptive activities rather than any preparation for an invasion,” the military official said.

“We do not want to cause unnecessary panic,” she added.

The Philippine National Police said they would conduct research to compare the retrieved uniforms to the real uniforms worn by foreign military personnel.

“We will conduct research to compare if the uniform we confiscated is the same as the usual uniforms worn by other countries,” PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said

The recovered uniforms bore resemblance to those used by China’s People’s Liberation Army-Army (PLA-Army) and People’s Liberation Army-Rocket Force (PLARF).

As this developed, the director of the Pampanga Police Provincial Office, Col. Levi Basilio, was relieved from his post Monday amid the ongoing probe into the POGO hub in Porac that was raided by authorities on June 4.

Police Regional Office 3 director Brig. Gen. Jose Hidalgo said Basilio’s relief aimed “to pave the way for a fair and impartial investigation in relation to the POGO raid in Porac.”

The raid stemmed from a warrant issued by the Malolos RTC Judge Maria Belinda Rama against officers and employees of Lucky South 99.

PAOCC described the POGO hub as “the biggest facility in Pampanga with a reported total number of 46 buildings including villas and other structures, as well as a golf course.”

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said there is no reason to panic if only a handful of Chinese uniforms were recovered from the POGO hub.

“If it’s just a handful, then let us not waste time on this,” he said, adding the uniforms may just be “souvenirs” or part of a “collection.”

But Senate Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said whether the Chinese military uniforms were fake or mere props, these serve as a “strong indication that the extent of scams perpetrated by these unscrupulous individuals is beyond comprehension.”

Senator Robin Padilla desribed the uniforms as “clear and present danger” if these are proven to be not just props.

At the House, Deputy Minority Leader France Castro on Tuesday led the filing of a bill seeking to prohibit and criminalize POGOs.

The proposed “Anti-POGO Act” declares it the policy of the state to ban POGOs that have “increasingly become a social menace and a source of unimaginable corruption.”

“POGOs have brought with them a swarm of crimes as testified by countless police raids — rape, murder, illegal recruitment, human trafficking, prostitution, illegal detention, inhumane labor practices, money laundering, and immigration bribery, among many others,” Castro said.

“Their supposed economic benefits have also been negligible compared to the social costs they have inflicted on our people and communities. It is high time we put a stop to this social menace,” she added.

The bill is similar to a measure earlier filed by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. 

Castro’s bill seeks to revoke all licenses granted to POGOs and make POGO operations a predicate crime to money laundering and human trafficking offenses.

It also imposes penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and P10 million in fines.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Senators bothered by PLA uniforms in Porac POGO hub, seek national security review

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