Plastic Surgery Centers in the Philippines Helping Protect Illegal Gambling Operators

Philippine authorities have uncovered a disturbing trend: plastic surgery centers catering to illegal online gambling operators and scam center workers.

Surgeons practicing on a patient in an operating room. (Source: Pexels)

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Police raids on two clandestine hospitals in Manila raise serious concerns about the lengths these individuals go to in order to avoid detection. A BBC report, published on Tuesday, sheds light on these "secret hospitals offering criminals new faces."

Related: Illegal Gambling's Role in Southeast Asia's Human Trafficking Crisis

Citing a Philippines police spokesperson, the BBC claims the hospitals could be permanently shut down "in the coming weeks." The spokesperson detailed two separate raids. The first took place in May, targeting a clandestine hospital in the southern suburbs of Manila.

Details on that raid remain scarce. However, a second raid conducted two months ago in Pasay City, another Metro Manila city, paints a clearer picture of the illicit activities taking place.

During the Pasay raid, police confiscated a peculiar assortment of medical equipment, including "hair transplant tools, dental implants and skin whitening IV drips." These items suggest the clientele may have sought facial reconstruction procedures, potentially to alter their appearance and evade identification by law enforcement.

The BBC further reports that authorities apprehended three foreign doctors during the Pasay raid – two from Vietnam and one from China. None of the apprehended individuals reportedly held valid licenses to practice medicine in the Philippines, raising concerns about the quality and safety of the procedures being offered.

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Protecting the Illegal Gambling Trade

The connection between these clandestine hospitals and illegal online gambling and scam operations is yet to be fully established. However, Philippine authorities suspect a link. Illegal online gambling operations have proliferated in recent years, particularly in Southeast Asia, with the Philippines emerging as a hub for such activities. These operations often target foreign nationals, and it is believed that the altered appearances could be a way to escape scrutiny and avoid deportation.

The rise of scam centers in the Philippines further strengthens the connection. These centers, which often target individuals abroad through phishing schemes and other online scams, require anonymity to operate. Plastic surgery could be a tool for these individuals to maintain anonymity and continue their illicit activities.

The raids on these clandestine hospitals represent a significant step towards dismantling the infrastructure that supports illegal online activities in the Philippines. Shutting down these facilities will not only disrupt the operations themselves but could also help clean up the Philippines' gambling industry, which is dealing with one scandal after another.

However, the issue extends beyond these specific hospitals. The raids highlight the need for stricter regulations and oversight within the Philippine medical sector. The BBC report concludes by stating that the true extent of the problem remains unknown. Further investigations are likely to shed more light on the connections between these clandestine hospitals and illegal online activities.


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