Lawmakers seek ban on illegal Pogo

Lawmakers seek ban on illegal Pogo
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SENATE President Francis Escudero, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Senator Loren Legarda called on Thursday, June 13, 2024, for the immediate closure of illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (Pogos) in the country.

In a statement, Escudero supported the call of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. to shut down illegal Pogos considering their involvement in crime activities.

Teodoro expressed concern over criminal syndicates posing as Pogos.

"I agree with Secretary Teodoro, who seems to be referring to illegal Pogo operations because he said that 'do not operate as intended.' In fact, all illegal Pogos should be closed whether they are close to our military bases or not and their perpetrators arrested," Escudero said.

"If, on the other hand, he is also referring to 'legal Pogos,' then I suggest that he discuss this matter of 'national concern' with Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) as it may involve national security," he added.

In a statement, Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense, seeks the conduct of a crackdown on illegal Pogos, raising concern about Pogo operations near military bases.

He also raised the need for intensified cooperation among Pagcor, the Bureau of Immigration, and other law enforcement agencies to halt illegal Pogo operations.

“Sa pakikipagtulungan sa Bureau of Immigration ng Pagcor, dapat na i-cancel din ang mga visa ng mga dayuhang empleyado ng mga unlicensed Pogos at ipatupad ang agarang deportation proceedings sa kanila,” he said.

(In cooperation with the Bureau of Immigration, Pagcor should also cancel the visas of foreign employees of unlicensed Pogos and implement immediate deportation proceedings against them.)

“Walang mabuting naidudulot ang patuloy nilang pamamalagi sa atin dahil bukod sa hindi naman sila nagbabayad ng kaukulang buwis, samu't saring krimen at paglabag sa ating batas ang ginagawa ng mga ito,” he added.

(Their continued presence among us brings no good because aside from not paying the proper taxes, they commit various crimes and violate our laws.)

Legarda, for her part, said concerned government agencies "must take drastic action to prevent further criminal elements to use Pogos as fronts and shut them down now," adding that they are a threat to national security.

“Recent discoveries have been very alarming on the human rights and national security fronts...Deport the mainland Chinese who are illegally operating in the Pogos, especially those involved in criminal activities. This is for the sake of the Filipino nation," she said.

Earlier, the Pagcor said there may be around 250 Pogos illegally operating in the country.

Pogo ban

Calls to ban Pogo operations in the country, which is mostly being run by Chinese nationals, even became louder following the recent raids conducted in Pogo hubs in Bamban, Tarlac and Porac, Pampanga, which resulted in the discovery of their involvement in various illegal activities such as hacking, sexual harassment, kidnapping, torture and illegal detention.

In the Porac hub, authorities discovered Chinese military uniforms, prompting concerns that the country may have already been infiltrated by Chinese nationals amidst its ongoing claims in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

Police also arrested an alleged Pogo worker who yielded high-tech and military-grade communication hacking equipment.

Meanwhile, PNP chief General Rommel Marbil assured there is nothing to worry about, noting that the country remains “stable and safe.”

“There is nothing to alarm po. Ang maganda po rito we are doing good. Maganda ‘yung kapulisan natin. Lahat po ng ginagawa natin ang guidance natin let us make sure na lahat ng batas nasusunod,” he said.

(There is nothing to be alarmed about. The good thing here is that we are doing well. Our police force is doing well. Everything we are doing is guided by ensuring that all laws are followed.) (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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