Congress urged to check on Pogos
MANILA, Philippines — Congress should step in to stop unregistered Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) from becoming hotbeds of illegal drug trade and money laundering by foreign syndicates, a House leader said on Sunday.
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chair of the House dangerous drugs committee, raised fears that Pogos could suffer the same fate as international gaming hubs used by mafias and drug syndicates for money laundering.
In a statement, he called for a “close scrutiny” of Pogos, suggesting they might have links to illegal drugs and organized crime.
“However, this requires a deep, profound and perhaps long and tedious investigation,” Barbers said.
“This early, I call on our financial intelligence and law enforcement units … to dig deeper into the personalities behind the gambling enterprise of both the Pogos and the casinos that were granted permits or license to operate by Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) all over the country,” he said.
“I may not be too accurate but I am certain that most, if not all, of the 46 Pogos have no legal personality because their names are not found in the business/company name registry in the Philippines or abroad,” Barbers said.
“They are like jeepney or bus ‘kolorum’ operators,” he said, referring to transport operators without a franchise.
Barbers said Pagcor should take into consideration the “security, social, immigration, labor and related problems that these firms may create to the Filipinos, and the country as well, in the near future.”
“In short, our authorities should determine the beneficial owners and workers of these Pogo firms. Are they of good repute and are not associated with persons with questionable reputation, character, honesty and integrity?” he said. —DJ Yap
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