THE committee on games and amusement at the House of Representatives approved on Monday, February 12, 2024, a bill seeking to stop the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) in the country due to the social menace it is causing.
The panel approved House Bill 5802, which was authored by House Minority Leader Manila Sixth District Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr.
Cagayan de Oro lawmaker Rufus Rodriguez cited crimes related to Pogo, such as kidnapping, human trafficking, murder, homicide, illegal detention, theft, robbery, extortion, physical injuries, swindling, grave coercion and different kinds of scam.
“Whatever the benefits accrued to our country [by Pogo], it has produced grave concerns and problems of peace and order. Pogo has inflicted undesired results on our people,” he said.
In Pasig City, Pogo and e-games or e-bingo operations have been closed pursuant to Ordinance 55 series of 2022.
In a statement, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said they have given businesses one year to wind up their operations.
“Pinasa natin ang ordinansa para ipagbawal ang mga establisyementong ito dahil wala naman silang magandang naidudulot sa lipunan. Ang dami nang nalulong, meron pang nagpakamatay at kaso ng human trafficking na kaugnay nito. Bukod pa ito sa lagayan na nangyayari sa konseho noon,” said Sotto.
(We passed the ordinance to ban these establishments because they do nothing good for society. Many have been addicted, there are even suicides and cases of human trafficking related to it. This is in addition to what was happening in the council before.)
“Kung sasabihin nila na may ‘taxes’ silang binabayaran, ay hindi rin naman ganun kalaki ang mawawala sa atin,” he added.
(If they say that they are paying 'taxes', we won't lose that much either.)
Earlier, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means also recommended to totally ban Pogo in the Philippines amid its alleged involvement in illegal activities, which put the country’s peace and order situation at risk.
Based on a report released by the Philippine National Police, from January 2017 to September 2023, the total number of victims of Pogo-related crimes had reached 4,355 involving a total of 903 perpetrators. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)