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Police find secret indoor firing range, underground tunnel in Pogo leisure hub

PORAC, Pampanga — Philippine National Police units in Pampanga on Saturday discovered a clandestine indoor firing range and an underground tunnel inside a posh exclusive leisure resort said to be being used here by Chinese nationals running Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogo) in Bamban, Tarlac and in this town.

The police also held for questioning two Filipino incorporators of Whirlwind, which leases a 10-hectare property to Lucky South 99 that was twice raided by authorities in early June for human trafficking, torture, prostitution and money scams.

The incorporators —Daniel R. Salcedo Jr. and Chona A. Alejandre—were found inside the two-hectare posh 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 unnamed resort in Barangay Señora here, some of their names appeared together with “Bamban employees” in payrolls seen by investigators.

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

Pampanga Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda prompted the search based on information gathered in three public hearings on the Porac Pogo, 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 commmunities,” Pineda said.

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 persons 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’s three phases inside the Grand Pallazo Royal.

Both persons were not seen in the places but the police 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, Ong kept a room complete with her portrait, branded clothes and accessories.

Ong is reported to be a girllfriend of the brother of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo who was suspended following a raid on Zuan Yuan Tehcnology Inc. in Baufo Land Development site behind the municipal hall last March.

“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 good 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. Cops recovered several slugs, indicating that the facility was “actively used.”

Señora Barangay Captain 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 tortures reported in Lucky South. Also recovered were documents incuding certificates of employment signed by a certain Cassy Li.

The search involved the Pampanga provincial police office (PPO) and Province Force Manuever Company First and Second, Provincial Intelligence Unit, Provincial EOD and Canine Unit, Special Weapon and Tactic, Porac municipal police stattion, HPG, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 3 and Pampanga public information office.