Filtered By: Topstories

Duterte: PHL needs POGOs

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday appeared to have rejected the plea of China to ban online gambling in the Philippines.

Duterte said he decided that the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) should continue since many Filipinos will lose jobs if it will be banned.

“We decide to benefit the interest of my countrymen,” he said at a news conference in Malacañang.

“I decide that we need it. Maraming mawalan ng hanapbuhay. Anyway it’s government-controlled," he added.

Duterte, however, warned gambling concessionaires to pay what is due the government.

“Bantay kayo ha kayong mga concessionaires pag nagkamali kayo, hindi kayo nag remit, isang remittance lang, you better close tapos mag-usap tayo,” he said.

On August 21, the Chinese government urged the Philippines to ban all online gambling after the latter stopped accepting applications for offshore gaming licenses until all concerns have been addressed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping repeated this call during his bilateral meeting with Duterte on August 29 in Beijing, said Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo last Friday.

“During the bilateral meeting, the President of China expressed appreciation of the suspension of POGO applicants but he mentioned – I clearly heard him saying - that they would appreciate more if the POGO operations completely ceased,” Panelo said.

“Because he explained, according to them gambling is illegal in China and most of the players there are Chinese nationals and also crimes are being committed with respect to that like money laundering.”

Panelo said Duterte was not able to respond to Xi.

Some lawmakers have sought an investigation into the impact of POGOs on the local economy, national security, and the public at large in the face of issues surrounding revenue monitoring and the foreigners working for offshore gaming operations without valid work permits.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has also proposed to transfer Chinese online gambling workers to self-contained communities or hubs, prompting apprehension from the Chinese Embassy that the move may infringe on Chinese citizens’ rights.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, for his part, has raised concern that POGO operations near military camps could be used for espionage work.

As of July this year, PAGCOR has earned more than P16 billion in revenue from offshore gaming operations since it started regulating POGOs.—LDF, GMA News