In The Know: Gov’t officials playing at gambling casinos
The law that created state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) specifies who are qualified to play—and who are not—in gambling casinos.
Those prohibited from staying or playing at gambling casinos are government officials connected directly with the operation of the government or any of its agencies and members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to Presidential Decree No. 1067-B, as amended by PD 1869.
Exempted from the ban are casino employees, who may be allowed to stay on the premises.
Others not allowed to enter the casinos are people under 21 years of age or students of any school, college or university in the Philippines.
Only foreign tourists and local residents with a net annual income of P50,000 are allowed to stay and play in the casinos.
Despite the prohibition, there have been reports of government officials seen in casinos.
A Sept. 15, 1996, video taken in the VIP lounge of Heritage Hotel Casino showed then Vice President Joseph Estrada playing high-stakes baccarat with his friend Charlie “Atong” Ang, in the presence of casino general manager Butch Tenorio.
Pagcor video technician Edgar Bentain, who reportedly leaked the video, disappeared in the early morning of Jan. 16, 1999, in the vicinity of Grand Boulevard Hotel, where Pagcor also operates a casino. He was reported to have received death threats after the videotape was shown to media.
Citing reports that some government officials and employees, including members of the police and military, had been seen in casinos, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued a memorandum circular in 2001 reiterating the prohibition against state workers entering, staying or playing in casinos.
Arroyo ordered all heads of departments, bureaus and offices, government-owned and -controlled corporations, local governments, the PNP and AFP to “remind officials and employees under them regarding this prohibition and to impose the appropriate sanctions and penalties in case of a violation.” Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, gov.ph