Sen. Win Gatchalian is calling on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to execute an immediate nationwide crackdown on illegal gambling operations.
At the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the Jack Lam bribery scandal on Monday, Gatchalian expressed outrage at how scheming businessmen have been blatantly violating the law right under PAGCOR’s nose.
“Government must now pull the plug on these unlawful operations. I am shocked at how these operators have been skirting the law while government remains clueless on their existence,” said Gatchalian as he took PAGCOR to task for its negligence as regulator of the gaming industry.
He cited as an example the case of big-time gaming operator Jack Lam’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, where a massive unauthorized online gaming operation was recently exposed following the raid on the casino-hotel complex in Pampanga, resulting in the arrest of 1,316 illegal Chinese workers.
“It is alarming that Jack Lam has successfully operated an illegal gaming operation over the years and PAGCOR did not even have a clue about it. If he was able to do that, then it is highly possible that there could be more Jack Lams illegally operating in the country. I hope this administration will learn from the mistakes of the past and not turn a blind eye to these illegal operations,” he added.
Meanwhile, at the hearing the next day concerning his proposal to increase penalties for illegal numbers games (Senate Bill No. 909) Gatchalian also called on the DILG to hunt down local government officials and police officers who serve as protectors for illegal gambling.
“The same determination in fighting illegal drugs should be applied to this fight against illegal gambling,” he stressed, even as he acknowledged that the corruption of local government leaders and policemen has made the battle more difficult by allowing these operations to continue with impunity.
“It’s a practical problem. We know that the grease money given to our local officials and policemen are double, even triple, of their basic salaries. The temptation is really daunting, we’re facing a tough enemy. And unless we do something to address this, the fight will continue to be really hard,” said Gatchalian.