Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for the immediate closure of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country, saying this will help maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth.
He made the call in a Chairman’s Report released by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means which conducted public hearings on the socio-economic benefits of POGO operations in the country following numerous reports of crimes attributed to the industry.
Specifically, he urged for “the adoption of a resolution urging the executive department to immediately ban all POGO operations in the country to uphold the safety of the Filipino people and to sustain the path to growth and development consistent with the administration’s economic reforms.
Gatchalian also urged Congress to pass legislation that would separate the functions
of regulation from operation in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) charter. He said a new entity should be created to perform solely regulatory functions, authorization, and licensing of games of chance and other forms of gambling, while PAGCOR will continue solely as a gambling operator.
He also urged the labor department to look for alternative employment placements for Filipino nationals employed by POGOs.
It should take into account their skills and capabilities with the possibility of being absorbed by other industries such as IT-BPOs and manufacturing through proper coordination.
The report further urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to collect the tax liabilities of PAGCOR’s third-party auditor, POGO licensees, and their service providers which can be used to finance priority development projects of the government.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) was directed to cancel and revoke the working visas issued to POGO foreign nationals employed in the POGO industry and implement the deportation of said foreign nationals following immigration rules and regulations.
According to Gatchalian, if we will sum up all the evidence and data unearthed following the Senate hearings conducted on POGO operations, he noted the country have not gained something from them.
“It’s about time to stop their operation, said Gatchalian.