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PAOCC: Around 300 POGOs illegally operating in PH

PAOCC said that there are around 300 POGOs operating in the country.

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) said Wednesday that there are around 300 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) illegally operating in the country.

“There are more than 300 illegal POGOs. My reading here is that all of them have their license before, but when they felt that their license won’t be renewed anymore due to violations they are committing, they decided not to reapply,” said PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

“These entities don’t want to be regulated by Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation),” he said.

Cruz, meanwhile, said that it is hard to believe that local government units won’t notice these "POGO hubs."

“It is hard to hide a POGO because there will be a lot of red flags, indicators that a certain building is involved in a POGO operation. A POGO building will be well lighted even at night, and foreigners abound the area,” explained Cruz.

Mayors Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac and Porac mayor Jaime Capil both earlier denied knowing about POGO operations within their jurisdiction after PAOCC raided these buildings in the past month. 

The PAOCC official then said that the authorities of local governments where POGOs were found to be involved in illegal activities are already being investigated by the Department of Interior and Local Government.

He also said that while POGOs operations mostly involve foreigners, some may be working with Filipinos. 

“Some of these Filipinos are used as dummy in SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) registration [of the companies] such as President, Treasurer, the like,” Cruz said.

“These are illegal,” Cruz added.

National Security Concern

Earlier, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. described criminal syndicates posing as POGO hubs as a "national security concern."

"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 in a statement.

The defense chief's statement was issued a day after the Philippine Navy said it was not yet considering POGOs as a threat to national security despite the series of raids in Central Luzon against POGO hubs involved in alleged illegal activities.

In March, authorities rescued more than 800 Filipinos and foreign nationals at a large POGO hub in Bamban, Tarlac after it was raided for alleged illegal activities that include crypto and love scams.

Last week, authorities rescued 158 Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysian nationals in a POGO hub in Porac, Pampanga.

Appeal to PAGCOR

In a chance interview, Senator Imee Marcos urged the suspension of POGO operations in the country, citing the "complicated system" of the industry.

She recalled that this has been her call for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) since 2022 following the series of discoveries that POGOs are allegedly involved in criminal activities.

"Talagang kinakailangan suspendihin na yan. Yung 2022 ko pa sinasabi ‘yan kasi nga sunud-sunod yung pagtuklas ng kababalaghan at yung mga criminal syndicate at eto nga nanawagan ako sa PAGCOR na kung maaari i-suspend na muna nila," she said.

(A suspension is really necessary. I've been saying that since 2022 after we discovered illegal activities. I am calling on PAGCOR to suspend it for now.)
For Marcos, the suspension should take place until the system for POGOs is organized.

"Kung ganito kagulo at kung sinu-sino na ang pumapasok, nako-corrupt na lahat ng opisyal, at lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno, itigil na muna ‘yan. Itigil muna, i-suspend at nasisira ang magandang pangalan ng Pilipinas," she said.

(If it's this messy and government officials are being involved, let's stop it for now. It is already affecting the image of the Philippines.)

 —with Hana Bordey/ VAL, GMA Integrated News


Tags: POGO, paocc