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Gatchalian slams PAGCOR for slow response over POGO illegal affairs

January 23, 2023 - Monday 4:01 PM by Caryl Gonzales

Article Banner Image PHOTO: PRIB

Senator Win Gatchalian criticized the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for their “no sense of urgency” on the illegal activities of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), a Philippine-based online gambling company, on Monday, January 23.

During the Senate Committee on Ways and Means hearing, its chair, Gatchalian, denounced the state-run PAGCOR for permitting two POGO companies to conduct business despite their involvement in a recent kidnapping case that Senator Grace Poe publicly disclosed in her privilege speech last December.

“You have reorganization that a crime that was perpetuated last month, December 14, in particular, after more than 30 days, nothing is happening. The same people are still operating; the same entities are still accredited by PAGCOR,” Gatchalian pointed out.

Senator Grace Poe, in December, reported multiple abduction incidents that involved POGO, in which she also mentioned the abducted individual was sold off to a Chinese-looking buyer.

He also asked what would be PAGCOR’s actions against the errant POGO companies Brickhartz Technology Inc. and MOA Cloudzone Corp.

PAGCOR Offshore Gaming Licensing Department Assistant Vice President Jessa Fernandez responded that they had not yet received a report for MOA Cloudzone, but Brickhartz has already received penalties and demerits.

However, Gatchalian was irked upon knowing that the fine imposed on Brickhartz was only $10,000 or P500,000.

“You’re just telling us that you just fined them P500,000, hoping they will change morally… There is no sense of urgency within the PAGCOR and in so far as dealing with the crime. That’s the problem.” he lamented.

The Ways and Means Committee Chairperson also stressed that nothing had much happened with Poe’s raised concerns.

However, PAGCOR Legal Group Vice President Roderick Consolacion defended Fernandez as she had recently been appointed to the position in the past week, noting the agency has undergone a “reorganization.”

The changes to the agency are unjustifiable reasons, Gatchalian backlashed. 

He said these incidents would impact the country’s reputation and name, noting President Bongbong Marcos Jr. is “very diligent in going around the world” to attract the country's investors and tourists.

“It’s very difficult to build names, especially when you want to attract investors to our country,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Bato dela Rosa stressed the PAGCOR should not fear POGOs, saying it’s about time they should assert “supremacy” as they are foreigners in the country.

“Kausapin niyo sila (POGOs) na “Isa pang krimen ang mangyari, we will hang everyone.” Huwag kayo matakot, hindi naman ‘to Pilipino eh. Mga dayuhan ito. You are here in our country. You should respect us. Huwag niyo babuyin yung aming bansa (Tell them (POGOs) that "If another crime happens, we will hang everyone." Don't be afraid, and they’re not Filipino. These are foreigners. You are here in our country. You should respect us. Don't ruin our country),” Dela Rosa instructed the PAGCOR.

PAGCOR, on the other hand, apologized and vowed to “closely” coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to resolve the issue as soon as possible. 

Gatchalian ordered the agency to ban the two mentioned companies “completely.”

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