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PAGCOR allocates US$41m to build relief centres

Gaming tax income was down 60 per cent in October.
Gaming tax income was down 60 per cent in October.

The regulator aims to build 32 centres in 31 cities affected by the Ulysses typhoon in early November.

The Philippines.- The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) says it has earmarked P2bn (US$41.5m) for the construction of over 30 multi-purpose evacuation centres for communities hit by the Ulysses typhoon.

Ulysses hit the Luzon region on November 11, triggering massive flooding and bringing down people’s homes.  

The regulator aims to build 32 centres in 31 cities, including Albay, Aurora, Batangas, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Ilocos Sur, Laguna, Mountain Province, Marikina, Northern Samar, Oriental Mindoro, Pampanga, Quezon, Romblon, Rizal, Southern Leyte, Tarlac and Zamboanga del Sur.

PAGCOR said: “As part of the government’s long-term response to climate change, which caused the successive strong typhoons that slammed the country, PAGCOR allocated P2 billion for the construction of multi-purpose evacuation centers (MPEC) in typhoon-prone provinces.”

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea D. Domingo stressed that the state-run gaming agency would allocate the funds despite its significant drop in revenue due to the suspension of gaming operations and strict community quarantine measures owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the third quarter of 2020, the regulator’s income fell by 60 per cent year-on-year to Php22.33bn (US$461.7m).

To make up for the drop, the Philippine authorities are working on new regulations to tax online e-sabong events and other legal online gaming activities. Experts believe this could increase gaming income by US$373 million.

Doming said: “The Filipinos have suffered a lot this year – from the global pandemic to a series of destructive typhoons. Hence, despite our revenue losses, we have committed to provide a long-term solution to the most vulnerable sectors and communities.

 “We deeply empathize with them. In fact, PAGCOR has already deployed teams in hard-hit provinces such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Marikina, Isabela and Cagayan to provide immediate relief. But with the construction of MPECs in typhoon-prone areas, we hope that we can help safeguard the lives and welfare of many Filipinos.”

Domingo added that while thousands of locals are being evacuated whenever there is a disaster, some local government units (LGUs) do not have enough evacuation centres. PAGCOR is aiming to fill that gap.

She said that as early as 2018, the state-run gaming agency had already conceptualised the MPEC project, which is being spearheaded by PAGCOR’s President and COO Alfredo Lim.

Once all details of the project are finalised, PAGCOR will directly turn over funding to beneficiary-LGUs for the establishment of MPECs.

The first of three schemes, which has a budget of P12.7m (US$263,643) includes use of a basketball court which will serve as an alternative evacuation centre.

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