Philippine Senator Urges Govt to Terminate POGO Operations Before June 2023
- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said POGOs must now be banned in the country
- He asserts that the POGO industry is not making any significant economic contributions
- SEC recently signed a data-sharing agreement with PAGCOR
The debate on the legal status of real money offshore gaming operators in the Philippines has further intensified, with one senator urging the government to terminate their operations once and for all by June 2023.
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) have been the subject of investigations in recent months over their alleged links to multiple crimes, including kidnapping and human trafficking.
Senator Calls for Immediate POGO Shutdown
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, one of the most vocal critics of POGOs, said it’s about time these firms are banned in the country, as they are not making any significant contributions to the economy. Instead, they are only jeopardizing the country’s peace and order, he claimed.
Gatchalian currently serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means which earlier conducted public hearings on whether or not POGOs should continue to operate in the country amid allegations of crime associated with the industry.
Gatchalian released a Chairman’s Report following the public hearings in which he called for the immediate shutdown of POGO operations to sustain economic growth and development, and uphold the safety of the Filipino people.
To protect the employment of Filipino nationals currently working for POGOs, the Senator recommends that they be given alternative jobs based on their skills and capabilities. He called on the labor department to coordinate with other industries to find vacancies for Filipino workers that will be affected by the closure of POGOs.
Senator Gatchalian also wants the working visas of foreign POGO workers cancelled and have them deported in accordance with immigration rules.
Additionally, Gatchalian called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to force POGO licensees and their service providers to pay their tax liabilities. He wants similar action to be done against the industry’s third-party auditor which recently saw its contract terminated by the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), for committing unlawful acts and failing to fulfill its obligations.
Taking into account all data and evidence presented during his committee’s public hearings, Gatchalian concluded that POGOs have not been beneficial for the country and should be dismantled because of the risks they pose to national security.
SEC Signs Data-Sharing Agreement with PAGCOR
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has signed a data-sharing agreement with PAGCOR to curb money laundering. The move is in accordance with recommendations from the international anti-money laundering watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which is based in Paris.
The Philippines remains on the agency’s “grey list”, though it acknowledged the county’s continued progress across its action plan in fighting money laundering.