DOJ junks trafficking charges vs POGO service provider

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the charges against an online gaming service provider tagged in kidnapping activities.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said in a statement that the charges filed against Pasay City-based POGO service provider MOA Cloudzone Corp. (MCZ) were already dismissed by the DOJ on Nov. 15, 2022.

MCZ corporate counsel Ronald Aala on Wednesday also said state prosecutors "found no probable cause or any evidence of the firm's involvement in the alleged trafficking of POGO workers."

The 13 complainants were rescued in Paranaque City by the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center in September.

The PNP-WCPC claimed MCZ and two other firms were the employers of the complainants who were forced to work.

The claim, however, was "never substantiated," according to Aala.

"Basic rule is that mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof," Aala said, quoting the decision of DOJ prosecutors

"Charges based on suspicion and speculation likewise cannot be given credence," he added.

State prosecutors said it was only a certain "Christine Chue Ni Quian" who recruited, advertised, and interviewed the workers.

The DOJ filed criminal charges against the recruiter "Christine" for syndicated trafficking.

The kidnapping case was floated during a privilege speech of Sen. Grace Poe in December.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalin then slammed Pagcor for still allowing the operations of POGO firms linked to alleged abductions.

On the issue of its third party auditor Global ComRCI, Pagcor said the ₱6-billion contract has been under review since September.

READ: Pagcor: Contract with third-party POGO auditor under review

Gatchalian earlier warned of legal action against Pagcor officials over its "questionable" multibillion-peso contract with Global ComRCI.

While Global ComRCI appears to have met the ₱1-billion operating capital requirement, it was certified by a certain Soleil Chartered Bank, which is not registered with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the senator noted.

"We have been in contact with Global ComRCI and are currently assessing the contract's terms and conditions and the company's performance," Pagcor said.

It also assured that the review would be released "at the proper time."