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Dela Rosa panel suggests POGO zone if gov’t won’t impose total ban

The Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee is inclined to recommend a creation of an exclusive zone for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) should the government decide not to ban them completely, panel chairman Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said Thursday.

“Ang recommendation ko doon, kung i-stop walang problema, kung ipagpatuloy… parang magkakaroon ng strict regulation ng POGO. Ilagay sila sa isang lugar na madaling ma-control ng authorities, ng mga pulis, [Bureau of] Immigration, PAGCOR. Parang POGO zone, nandoon sila sa isang lugar para madali ma-control,” Dela Rosa said in an online interview with reporters.

(My recommendation is, a ban is no problem. If the decision is to let them continue, there should be strict regulation. Put them somewhere that authorities—police, Immigration, PAGCOR—can easily control, like a POGO zone.)

“Ako, open ako kung i-stop ‘yung POGO or ipagpatuloy [I am open to stopping POGOs or letting them continue],” the senator added as he mentioned that he signed the committee report of the Senate ways and means panel which recommended the immediate total ban of POGOs in the country.

Dela Rosa added he may interpellate the report as he wants any ban to be gradual and not immediate.

For him, the POGO industry must be given around two years so the workers can find new jobs and other businesses that will be affected by the ban can adjust.

The Senate ways and means committee and the Senate public order and dangerous drugs panel have conducted separate inquiries into the POGO industry.

Both committees sought to determine the economic and social costs as well as benefits of the POGO in the country.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva expressed confidence that his colleagues will support the proposal to immediately ban POGO operations in the country.

Senate ways and means chairman Sherwin Gatchalian last Tuesday said he is expecting to sponsor the Senate committee on ways and means report on POGOs upon the resumption of session as more senators signed it after his privilege speech last week. — BM, GMA Integrated News