President Rodrigo Duterte insisted on Monday that there is “no corruption” among Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) despite mounting evidence bared by several senators about their involvement in illegal activities.
“Walang corruption diyan sa [POGO]. Wala kaming kinausap diyan except PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Coporation),” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang after a meeting on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) threat.
Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier presented an alleged Taiwanese POGO trafficking victim and said that illegal recruitment, illegal detention, and sexual harassment are rampant in the POGO industry.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian meanwhile cited Bureau of Internal Revenue data showing that the Philippines has lost some P51 billion in taxes due to POGOs’ tax evasion.
The Palace said on Sunday that Duterte is unlikely to end POGO operations in the country because he is “satisfied” with the revenue they generate.
“I assure you that every centavo na kikitain diyan sa mga gaming supervised by PAGCOR are accounted for. Walang corruption diyan at hindi ako papayag,” the president said.
Duterte said the money brought in by POGOs can be used to fund the country’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“‘Yung POGO earns about P2 billion a month,” he said. “We are not justifying it. We are just saying that it is allowed because we need the funds… Sayang e, makatulong sa bayan.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo added that the crimes allegedly being committed by POGOs are up to the concerned government agencies to resolve.
“Those issues raised against it like criminality, laundering—there are agencies that are responsible for the enforcement of the laws. So they will have to take care of that,” Panelo said.
Duterte added that the Philippines cannot deny entry to Chinese nationals because Filipino migrant workers are welcomed and employed in China and Hong Kong.
Senator Richard Gordon previously bared that Chinese nationals who have been flying into the country with huge wads of cash have protectors in the government, adding that over 500,000 Chinese entered the country between December 1, 2019 and February 20 this year. —LDF, GMA News