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'Could be fugitive or alien!': Philippine hospitals under scanner for offering plastic surgery to evade arrest

In a startling revelation, Philippine authorities have recently uncovered clandestine hospitals offering plastic surgery services to fugitives and scam center workers, helping them evade arrest.

Could be fugitive or alien! Philippine hospitals under scanner for offering plastic surgery to evade arrest snt
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First Published Jul 10, 2024, 4:08 PM IST

(Image for representation purpose only. Credit: Pexels)

In a startling revelation, Philippine authorities have recently uncovered clandestine hospitals offering plastic surgery services to fugitives and scam center workers, helping them evade arrest. This development came to light after police raided one such illegal facility in Manila's southern suburbs in May, with plans to shut down two more similar establishments in the coming weeks.

The initial raid in Pasay City led to the seizure of hair transplant tools, dental implants, and skin whitening IV drips. Winston John Casio, a spokesman for the Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC), emphasized the transformative capabilities of these procedures, and was quoted as saying in a BBC report, "You can create an entirely new person out of those."

The facilities under surveillance are believed to be significantly larger than the one in Pasay, with authorities indicating they are four times the size.

The clientele of these clandestine hospitals allegedly includes workers from online casinos, known as Philippine Online Gaming Operations (Pogos), who are operating in the Philippines illegally.

Pogos cater primarily to players in mainland China, where gambling is prohibited, but they have also been implicated in criminal activities such as telephone scams and human trafficking.

The raid in Pasay led to the arrest of three doctors—two from Vietnam and one from China—a Chinese pharmacist, and a Vietnamese nurse, none of whom were licensed to work in the Philippines. Authorities also discovered a hemodialysis machine, indicating the facility's capability to provide various medical treatments beyond plastic surgery.

Casio told, "They look like regular clinics on the outside, but once you enter, you'll be shocked by the type of technology they have."

"These Pogo hospitals don’t ask for the proper identification cards... You could be a fugitive, or you could be an illegal alien in the Philippines," he added.

The existence of the illegal hospital in Pasay City was revealed through a tip-off. Pogos, which flourished under former President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, are now facing a crackdown under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who aims to curb their criminal links.

"The president does not want the Philippines to be painted as a 'scam hub' and has given us a directive to go after scam farms because of how they have been targeting large numbers of people from all over the world," Casio was further quoted as saying in a BBC report.

This crackdown has already led to significant arrests. In December 2022, immigration officials apprehended a suspected Chinese mafia member who had allegedly undergone plastic surgery to avoid detection, a case potentially linked to these underground hospitals.

The issue has also sparked political controversy. The mayor of a town north of the capital, Alice Guo, recently faced criticism after a Pogo scam center was busted near her office. She has been accused of being a spy for China, with authorities questioning her birth records amidst the scandal.

As authorities continue their investigation, the extent of these clandestine operations and their implications on crime and security in the Philippines remains a critical concern.

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