Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) to devise appropriate and actionable strategies to effectively address the growing criminal activities associated with the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) industry.
This call comes in the wake of a recent raid on SA Rivendell Global Support, Inc., another POGO accredited service provider. During Wednesday’s operation in Pasay City, some Filipinos were rescued, and it was discovered that several rooms were being used for cyber scams while a few rooms were utilized for online gambling. Other cases of criminalities attributed to POGOs in the past include kidnap-for-ransom, cryptocurrency, love scams, and human trafficking.
“With the increasing number of these crimes, we are now becoming the human trafficking hub of the world. It’s evident that POGO is not bringing any benefit but instead, the industry is bringing shame to the country,” emphasized Gatchalian.
“What we want is formal and actionable strategies by PAGCOR duly approved by the board, and not just plans to appease legislators. ‘Yung sinasabi niyong inspection and coordination, narinig na namin ‘yan ng ilang beses,” Gatchalian told PAGCOR officials at a Senate hearing on the recent human trafficking and cyber fraud operation inside Clark Freeport Zone, which was the subject of a proposed resolution filed by the senator.
PAGCOR Vice President Atty. Jessa Mariz Fernandez told the committee that among the reforms undertaken by the regulator include the adoption of a new framework, which places all POGOs under probationary status until September this year, after which they will need to reapply for a new license. She said they will issue a recommendation based on the companies’ compliance or non-compliance.
This was Fernandez’ reply to Gatchalian’s queries on whether the regulator is yet to be convinced of the necessity to completely ban POGOs despite their downsides.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Gatchalian has time and again called for the immediate expulsion of POGOs from the country amid rising cases of criminalities attributed to POGOs.
He has maintained that social costs and reputational risks brought about by these crimes far outweigh any benefits derived from revenues paid by POGOs.