Senator urges PAGCOR to go after unlicensed POGOs

Photo from: PNA
MANILA – Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada has called on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to address reports that some 250 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country are operating illegally or without licenses.
"Kung may sapat na impormasyon na ang PAGCOR tungkol dito, huwag na sana silang magpatumpik-tumpik pa sa pagpapasara ng mga ilegal o unlicensed na POGOs (If PAGCOR already has enough information about this, they should not hesitate to shut down illegal or unlicensed POGOs)," Estrada said in a statement on Thursday.
He said PAGCOR should also work with the Bureau of Immigration in cancelling the visas of foreign employees of these illegal POGOs and deport them.
"Walang mabuting naidudulot ang patuloy nilang pamamalagi sa atin dahil bukod sa hindi naman sila nagbabayad ng kaukulang buwis, samu't saring krimen at paglabag sa ating batas ang ginagawa ng mga ito (Their continued stay in our country does no good because apart from not paying the appropriate taxes, they commit various crimes and violations of our law)," Estrada said.
The senator made the statement amid the security concerns raised by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro over POGOs operating near Philippine military bases.
"The concern is that we should stop these syndicated criminal activities operating out of our base, which weaken our financial standing, our country ratings, [and] corrupt our society." Teodoro said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Teodoro's assessment reinforces his call for the immediate ban of POGOs in the country.
"As Defense secretary, he possesses privileged information and intelligence that convinced him to make that statement," Gatchalian said in a separate statement.
Meanwhile, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros said Teodoro "only confirms" that POGOs already qualify as a national security risk.
"I would also like to urge him to advise the President not only to stop POGOs near PH military bases, but also to forbid the entire POGO industry from operating in our country," she said in another statement.
'National concern'
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año does not yet view POGOs as a national security threat that would require "direct involvement of defense forces" to neutralize.
"At the moment, it is a national concern that law enforcement and regulatory agencies can address. Our lawmakers may also need to look into the pros and cons of allowing its continued operations," he said in a statement.
He said there are legitimate POGOs that are duly licensed and regulated by the PAGCOR and other government agencies.
Illegal POGOs and those involved in scams and illegal activities should not be tolerated, he added.
"The issues related to illegal POGOs, such as illegal activities and regulatory violations, can be addressed within the framework of existing government regulations and law enforcement mechanisms."
Año said the National Security Council, which he heads, would continue to work with relevant government agencies and stakeholders to gather comprehensive data and insights, "providing a balanced and informed perspective".
"This approach will help ensure that any policy regarding the future of POGOs and other related operations in the Philippines are made with a clear understanding of their implications to national security," he said. (PNA)

Last Modified: 2024-Jun-13 18.59 +0800