The Senate Committee on Ways and Means, led by Senator Win Gatchalian, has mustered enough support for its call to immediately expel Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) from the country in a bid to help maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth.
“Isa itong mahalagang hakbang para mapigilan ang paglaganap ng krimeng nagmumula sa ilang kumpanya ng POGO. Inaasahan natin na maabot ang ating layunin na mapanatili ang kaayusan sa bansa, na siyang magdudulot ng paglago ng ating ekonomiya,” Gatchalian said as he formally filed Committee Report No. 136 containing such recommendation.
Over the past several months, Gatchalian has steadfastly advocated for the closure of POGOs in the country, maintaining that any revenue derived from the industry is not worth the massive social costs associated with POGO-related crimes. With the filing of the committee report, the country will realize sooner than later the removal of POGO operations from the country.
Specifically, the committee report calls for the adoption of a resolution urging the executive department to cease the operations of POGOs. This is aimed at safeguarding the well-being of the Filipino people and maintaining a trajectory of growth and development in line with the administration’s economic reforms.
In the same report, Gatchalian urges 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 Information Technology Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPOs) and manufacturing through proper coordination.
The report also urges the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to cancel and revoke the working visas issued to foreign nationals employed in the POGO industry and implement their deportation following immigration rules and regulations.
“Malinaw sa datos na ating nakalap nitong mga nakaraang buwan na ginagamit ng mga kawatan ang POGO para makapagsagawa ng mga krimen na kinabibilangan ng human trafficking, at iba’t ibang investment tulad ng crypto-currency at love scam,” Gatchalian added.
The total number of victims of POGO-related crimes already reached 4,355 involving a total of 903 perpetrators from January 2017 to June 30 of this year, based on a report released by the Philippine National Police (PNP). According to the PNP, crimes committed in such incidents include human trafficking, forcible abduction, homicide, illegal detention, kidnapping-for-ransom, theft, robbery-extortion, serious physical injuries, swindling, and grave coercion, among others.