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Villanueva backs study on PH’s Pogo industry

/ 06:24 PM August 28, 2019
Villanueva backs study on PH's Pogo industry

Sen. Joel Villanueva. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday backed the order for the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to conduct a study on the country’s online gaming industry.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, said the industry “does very little to benefit the country” as it mainly provides jobs for foreign nationals than Filipinos.

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BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno earlier ordered BSP and AMLC to submit a study on Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) following the Chinese government’s call for a clampdown on its illegal operations. He also hoped that the study would help provide a picture of the industry’s effects on the local economy, as well as the real estate industry. 

READ: AMLC, BSP ordered to scrutinize Pogo industry

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“We’re glad the Bangko Sentral is taking action on [Pogos] with the study commissioned by Diokno, and this aligns with a resolution we filed earlier this month calling for an inquiry on the influx of foreign workers in the country, especially in [Pogos],” Villanueva said in a statement. 

“We maintain that the sector does very little to benefit the country. [Pogos] do not create jobs for Filipinos, and the influx of foreign workers which [Pogos] primarily employ have driven property prices upwards to the detriment of Filipino businesses and workers,” he added. 

The senator said BSP and AMLC will be invited to the Senate’s public hearing on the issue to present the results of their study. 

Money laundering

Villanueva, meanwhile, explained that revenues collected from the industry is very “minimal,” adding that “[Pogos] are fertile ground for illicit transactions such as money laundering.”

“Until last month, our revenue collection from the sector is minimal at best considering that [Pogo] firms only agreed to pay income taxes last month, nearly three years since its operations went full blast in 2016,” Villanueva said. 

“It’s also worth noting that [Pogos] are fertile ground for illicit transactions such as money laundering, among other crimes. If our government does not put in safeguards on this sector as soon as possible, we risk being branded as another money laundering hotspot,” he added.  

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Further, the senator said: “We do not want another Bangladeshi bank heist happening on our shores.” /kga

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