PAGCOR intensifies efforts to combat illegal POGO activities

An interagency meeting was held on September 14.
An interagency meeting was held on September 14.

The regulator has received reports of kidnappings related to POGOs.

The Philippines.- The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has announced that it has intensified its collaboration with government and law enforcement agencies after several reports of kidnappings related to Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

During an interagency meeting held on September 14 by PAGCOR, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), each agency pledged to ensure the safety of Filipinos and foreign nationals working in the country.

Alejandro TengcoPAGCOR chairman and CEO, said: “The information we received is that these alarming incidents of kidnapping came from the ranks of illegal operators. 

“While it will be a challenge to all participating agencies, the good thing is that we are receiving information as to where these illegal operations are located. With the help of everybody, we will be able to zero in immediately.” 

Tengco said that POGO operators have committed to policing their own ranks. He said: “First, they are now going to ask their people to contain themselves in an area for safety and security purposes. Second, they will come up with an updated list of their employees because some have already resigned. 

“Third, we will require them to submit a police clearance together with their application for an offshore gaming license employment (OGEL) ID. At least, those who apply, alam natin na malinis ang kanilang record.”

If kidnappings and other illegal activities persist, Tengco said PAGCOR will cancel the licences of POGO operators and that the entire industry may be affected by action from national government. PNP chief Rodolfo Azurin stressed the importance of partnership with different government agencies, including local government units to deal with offenders. 

He requested POGO operators surrender their permits to carry firearms to the PNP and furnish updated information on foreign workers’ employment permits.

According to Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who also attended the interagency meeting, the department, in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration, will execute summary deportation immediately for illegal foreign workers arrested in recent weeks and those responsible for kidnappings and related crimes.

The Philippines finance secretary wants rids of POGOs

Benjamin Diokno, secretary of finance in The Philippines, has suggested that the country should abolish Philippine offshore gaming operators (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.

According to GMA network, he said: “If you ask my personal opinion on this, let’s discontinue the POGO because of the social cost. It also has a reputational risk because people will ask, ‘Why are they going to the Philippines? They were discontinued in China and Cambodia, why are they going to the Philippines?”

Diokno said that with China and Cambodia having clamped down on online gaming operations, people may deem the Philippines to be too “loose” or “not strict” with its rules.

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