Pagcor chairman: Roque assisted illegal Porac Pogo hub application

Former presidential spokesperson and senatorial aspirant Harry Roque.
Former presidential spokesperson and senatorial aspirant Harry Roque.Photo by Alan Tangcawan

PHILIPPINE Amusement Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alejandro Tengco said on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, that former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque assisted the recently raided illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo) in Porac, Pampanga for its application for a license to operate.

During the resumption of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality probe on the raided illegal Pogo in Bamban, Tarlac, Tengco said Roque accompanied Katherine Cassandra Li Ong, the authorized representative of Lucky South 99, to his office sometime in July 2023.

He said Ong raised the problems of the Pogo firm, particularly the non-payment of six months’ worth of arrears valued at around $500,000, despite having it paid to Dennis Cunanan, former deputy director of the Technology and Livelihood Resource Center.

Tengco said Ong and Roque asked him to allow the Pogo firm to reapply for their license, which was then set to expire in two months.

Pagcor Offshore Gaming Licensing Department head Jessa Fernandez, who was with Tengco during the meeting, said Roque contacted her six times to inquire about the reapplication of Lucky South 99's license.

However, Tengco clarified that Roque was not pressuring them, nor demanding, as he expressed belief that he might have just been doing his job as the firm’s head of legal department.

"Liliwanagin ko din. Si Secretary Roque po'y nandun. Hindi naman po siya nag-pre-pressure. Siya lang din po ay nakikiusap na kung maaari lang ay matulungan 'yung si Cassandra Ong," Tengco said.

(I'll clarify as well. Secretary Roque was there. He wasn't pressuring anyone. He was just requesting if it's possible to help Cassandra Ong.)

"Hindi po siya naman namememwersa. Nakikiusap po siya at very light po naman ang mga conversation namin. Sabi nga niya, sinamahan ko ito at aggrieved party daw nga," he added.

(He wasn't forcing anyone. He was just requesting, and our conversations were very light. He even said, "I accompanied her as she is the aggrieved party.")

The firm’s license reapplication was denied.

Pogo hub raid

On June 5, at least 186 foreign and Filipino workers were apprehended during a raid in Lucky South 99, which is situated in a 10-hectare property in Porac with a total of 46 buildings, including villas and other structures, as well as a golf course.

Some of the rescued victims, Chinese nationals, bore torture marks in different parts of their bodies. There were also several foreign women who were sexually abused and being sold online through bidding.

The said Pogo firm was raided and shut down on September 17, 2022, also over alleged involvement in illegal activities. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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