Senator Win Gatchalian is seeking the immediate closure of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country in a bid to help maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth.
Gatchalian made the call in a Chairman’s Report released by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means which conducted public hearings on the socio-economic benefits of maintaining POGO operations in the country following numerous reports of crime attributed to the industry. Gatchalian serves as chairman of the committee.
Specifically, he urged for “the adoption of a resolution urging the executive department to immediately ban all POGO operations in the country with the end in view of upholding the safety of the Filipino people, and to sustain the path to growth and development consistent with the administration’s economic reforms.”
In the same report, Gatchalian also urged Congress to pass legislation that would separate the functions of regulation from operation in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) charter. He said a new entity should be created to perform solely regulatory functions, authorization, and licensing of games of chance and other forms of gambling, while PAGCOR will continue solely as a gambling operator.
He also urged the labor department to look for alternative employment placements for Filipino nationals employed by POGOs taking into account their skills and capabilities with the possibility of being absorbed by other industries such as IT-BPOs and manufacturing through proper coordination.
The report further urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect the tax liabilities of PAGCOR’s third-party auditor, POGO licensees, and their service providers which can be used to finance priority development projects of the government.
Gatchalian also directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to cancel and revoke the working visas issued to POGO foreign nationals employed in the POGO industry and implement the deportation of said foreign nationals following immigration rules and regulations.
“Kung susumahin ang lahat ng mga ebidensya at datos na isiniwalat na kaugnay sa operasyon ng POGO, lumalabas na puro perwisyo lamang at walang pakinabang sa bansa ang mga POGO. Panahon na para buwagin ito,” he concluded.