POGO ‘resort’ yields secret firing range, underground tunnel

PORAC, Pampanga – A hidden indoor firing range and an underground tunnel were discovered by the police inside a restricted compound in Barangay Señora here linked to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hub in nearby Barangay Sta. Cruz raided last June. 

The compound is suspected to be an exclusive leisure resort for the POGO “big bosses.” 

The police operations on Saturday, July 6, was prompted by Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda on the strength of the information gathered in three successive public hearings on the Porac POGO by the sangguniang panlalawigan held last month, intelligence reports from the police, and tips from civilians, according to Col. Jay Dimaandal, provincial police director.

“We are taking actions against illegal activities of POGO for the peace of our communities,” said Pineda, who joined the police operations. 

The police held for questioning two Filipino incorporators of Whirlwind Corp., which leases a 10-hectare property to Lucky South 99 that was twice raided by authorities in early June for suspected human trafficking, torture, prostitution, and money scams. The incorporators, identified as Daniel R. Salcedo Jr. and Chona A. Alejandre, were found inside the two-hectare compound and presented themselves as “mere employees.” 

The police invited three more women and three men for questioning. While they claimed to be maintenance workers in the compound, some of their names appeared together with “Bamban employees” in payrolls seen by investigators. 

Two Chinese nationals identified as Xiang Tan and Jing Gu are both incorporators of Whirlwind and Lucky South 99, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents submitted to the provincial legislative board. 

Executive Judge Robert Alexander Malig of the Regional Trial Court’s Third Judicial Region issued the search warrant on Katherine Cassandra Li Ong, Gheric Pagcu Manaloto, and any person under their employ in three mansions on Daisy St., Purok 6 in Barangay Señora for violation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and its amended law. Barangay officials joined the search that lasted over five hours. The resort is less than five kilometers from Lucky South 99’s three phases inside the Royal Garden Estate.  

Both individuals named in the search warrant were not seen in the places but the police said they monitored at least two calls by Ong, registered as Cassy Li, from a mobile phone to Salcedo. 

In one of the 10 or so bedrooms in the big mansion, police found a room apparently kept by Ong with her portrait, branded clothes, and accessories. 

Ong is allegedly a girlfriend of the brother of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo who was suspended following a raid on Zuan Yuan Technology Inc. in Baufo Land Development site behind the municipal hall last March. 

Fortress

“This is a well-funded structure,” provincial board Member Ananias Canlas Jr. said, referring to the design, furniture and facilities in Señora that included a pool, lake, garden, salon, spa, KTV bar, game rooms, entertainment centers and a helipad. Several doors are adorned with Chinese characters for welcome. The workers reported serving guests who are mostly Chinese.

“It’s like a fortress,” added Canlas, a lawyer. The two-storey deep underground tunnel, he pointed out, leads to what appears to be a two-bedroom safehouse. The governor has ordered it drained for a search on firearms or traces of human remains. 

The firing range, built next to a 20-foot-high concrete fence, was initially described by a maintenance worker to be a warehouse. 

“Kahit PNP, wala nito. It is equipped with an electronic control for pistol and rifle targets. It is made sound-proof by the concrete walls and roofs,” Dimaandal said. Police recovered several slugs, indicating that the facility was “actively used.” 

Barangay Señora chairman Renato Pineda said he had not issued clearances for the firing range or for the any facility in the compound. 

A resident told investigators that the compound was started to be built three years ago. Chinese-looking nationals were sometimes seen smoking outside the fence last year. A helicopter landed at the helipad weekly. 

Authorities also recovered several baseball bats, bladed weapons, and handcuffs similar to those used in the reported tortures committed at the Lucky South 99 hub. Also recovered were documents including certificates of employment signed by a certain Cassy Li.

A composite group of operatives of the Pampanga PPO, 1st and 2nd Force Maneuver Companies, provincial intelligence unit, provincial EOD and canine units, SWAT team, Porac police station, Highway Patrol Group, and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 3 conducted the police operations. Pampanga PIO 

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