China to cooperate with Philippines battle against POGO crimes

PAGCOR has intensified its efforts to combat illegal offshore gambling operations.
PAGCOR has intensified its efforts to combat illegal offshore gambling operations.

The Chinese ambassador to the Philippines said the Chinese government “firmly” opposes gambling.

The Philippines.- The Chinese government has announced that it will strengthen its cooperation with the Philippines to tackle crimes related to Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs). Following several cases of kidnappings related to POGOs, Huang Xilian, Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, stressed that China opposes gambling and takes strict measures against it.

Huang had previously met with Jesus Crispin Remulla, the Philippines justice secretary, who said the Philippine government would continue to end illegal gambling activities in cooperation with the Chinese government.

The Chinese ambassador stressed: “According to the Chinese laws and regulations, gambling in whatever form by Chinese citizens, be it online gambling or gambling overseas is illegal. Crimes induced by and associated with online gambling not only harm China’s interests and China-Philippines relations but also hurt the interests of the Philippines.”

He expressed appreciation for Philippine law enforcement agencies having rescued a number of Chinese citizens and shut down some gambling companies in recent operations. Rescued Chinese citizens are at the Bureau of Immigration detention facility in Taguig City awaiting deportation.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said the DOJ and the Chinese Embassy will meet today (September 22) to further discuss the deportation of POGO workers.

Senate leader presents bill to ban online gambling in the Philippines

Senate majority leader Joel Villanueva has introduced Senate Bill 1281 seeking to ban all types of online gaming in the Philippines, including POGOs and PIGOs (offshore and domestic betting and wagering).

Villanueva argued that “the consequences of gambling and online gambling are too serious to ignore. The cost of gambling is no longer limited to the loss of money, but extends to the loss of value and life.”

He also noted the criminal activity surrounding e-Sabong earlier this year, and said that “these situations also show that the social costs of gambling are too high: bankruptcy, family breakdown, criminal activity, etc.”

If the law is passed, anyone who engages in online gambling could face jail time and a fine of up to PHP500,000 (US$8,700).

Villanueva is not the only one against POGOs. Last week Benjamin Diokno, secretary of finance in The Philippines, suggested that the country should abolish POGOs. Speaking at a briefing by the Senate Development Budget Coordinating Committee on the 2023 state spending plan, he told senators that he saw the industry as a risk.

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