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Diokno wants POGOs to go: ‘My position is very clear’

POGO POGOs Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno is in favor of the expulsion of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), but said he has no recommendations on how they will be phased out.

“My position there is very clear. ‘Go.’ I think Arsi is also ‘Go.’ I can’t talk of the economic team, but individually that’s my position,” Diokno said, referring to National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

“Wala akong [I have no] recommendation on phasing out, I just want them to go ‘yun lang [that’s it],” the Finance chief told reporters during his weekly press chat.

Balisacan had earlier said he would recommend a POGO ban to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., citing their “social cost” as against to revenues generated and economic benefits.

Echoing the NEDA chief’s remarks, Diokno emphasized that the Philippines might look like a “soft state” for allowing offshore gambling, which other countries have already banned.

“May implication ‘din yan sa money laundering [It also has implications of money laundering],” he said.

Balisacan and Diokno’s comments came on the heels of the Senate committee on ways and means’ recommendation for the immediate expulsion of POGOs from the country.

In Committee Report No. 136, the panel called for the adoption of a Senate resolution urging the Executive department to cease the operations of POGOs.

Ten lawmakers signed the report: Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Ronald “Bato" dela Rosa, JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, Risa Hontiveros, Pia Cayetano, Raffy Tulfo, Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

According to Senate panel chairperson Gatchalian's office, 10  signatures already constitute the majority as the panel only has 18 members.

Gatchalian said the move was aimed at safeguarding the well-being of the Filipino people and maintaining a trajectory of growth and development in line with the administration’s economic reforms. — BM, GMA Integrated News