Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality chairperson Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Thursday she would dig deeper during a Senate inquiry on Monday on the accusations that government officials have links to illegal operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

In a press conference led by Hontiveros, Lai Yu Cian a.k.a. Ivy, the 23-year-old Taiwanese woman trafficked into the Philippines to work for a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) company, revealed that her abusive Chinese employers claimed that there are Philippine government officials protecting them.

Ivy was illegally recruited to work for a Chinese-run POGO company in Makati City.

Her passport was also confiscated by her employers.

She recounted that when her bosses would threaten her, they would say that if she escaped, she would still be found because there are government officials on their side.

“I even tell them all the thing I want is my passport, if you don’t give my salary, it’s okay. But they still keep lying to me … and they always say that there are government people, or a government person to protect their business,” she recalled. “They mention Michael Yang but I don’t know who [he is] … my boss only says that when he shouts at me.”

Hontiveros called for this accusation to be taken seriously.

“We have to look into the possible links of POGO operations to our government officials,” she said. “Hindi pwedeng may mga protektor itong mga ilegal na POGO, lalung-lalo na at nagdadala yung operasyon nila ng sankatutak na krimen.”

Anti-crime advocate Teresita Ang See affirmed Ivy’s testimony, sharing that she also rescued a Chinese national who, when brought to the Department of Justice (DoJ) after the rescue, was bribed and threatened by a Chinese broker who went to the DoJ with a bag filled with money.

Ang See shared this broker even proclaimed that policemen and fiscals are in their pockets.

Hontiveros said she will raise this concern during the upcoming Senate hearing on POGO-related prostitution on Monday, February 17.

“Sabi ko nga, POGO brings a whole spectrum of crimes into the country: illegal recruitment, illegal detention, sexual harassment, prostitution, at iba pa,” she explained.

“Sa hearing, kailangan malaman natin kung meron nga bang kinalaman ang ating mga government officials, ating mga pulis at mga piskal. We need to a stop to these crimes,” she concluded.