Chinese millions entering PH may be funneled into POGO operations — Drilon
MANILA, Philippines – The millions of dollars brought in by Chinese nationals to the Philippines may have been funneled to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO), Minority Floor Leader and Senator Franklin Drilon said on Sunday.
According to Drilon, this is because undeclared money is expected, as said in Republic Act No. 10365 which amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act, to be laundered through casinos and other gaming platforms.
“Ang presumption ng anti-money laundering act lalo na pagdating sa casinos, ay gagamitin ang casino sa mga money laundering scheme. Kaya sakop ang casinos at may obligation silang i-report kung saan nanggaling yung pera,” Drilon said in a radio interview with DZBB.
“Kaya KYC, know your customer, dapat naman mayroon silang kakayahan,” he added.
The issues of money laundering allegedly by Chinese individuals came after a Senate hearing showed that an “inordinate” amount of money — around $160 million — entered the country from December 2019 to February 2020.
This record from the Bureau of Customs was shared by Senator Richard Gordon, saying that some of the Chinese nationals carried as much as $5 million in cash entering the country.
Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee said that he would launch a legislative inquiry on the topic while asking the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to look into the issue.
If proven that the Philippines is being used as an avenue for dirty money from Chinese syndicates in mainland China, Drilon said that it may have far-reaching repercussions.
One problem may concern the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization that was created to fight money laundering. FATF’s issuances may force Philippine authorities to impose more stringent measures before allowing transferring money — which may impact remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
“Kawawa diyan yung mga OFWs dahil sa tinatawag nating enhanced examination, kung saan maraming dokumento ang kakailanganin para lamang makapagpadala ng pera ang mga OFWs sa Pilipinas,” Drilon explained.
“At this stage, ang kailangang tingnan ‘yung compliance. Nandiyan yung batas. Pwedeng tawagin yung AMLC, yung BSP, yung PAGCOR. Ano ba ang kanilang ginagawa para magampanan ang kanilang tungkuling para imonitor lalo na yung POGO,” he added.
For Drilon, the POGOs should be closed down since its positive outlook outweighs the problems it gives.
“Yung POGO, sa aking tingin, walang malaking contribution sa ating ekonomiya; hindi nakakadagdag ng trabaho dahil puro naman Chinese nationals; yung real estate, tinatawag nating bubble o artificial ang pagtaas ng real estate,” he said.
“Ayaw ng Chinese government ng ayaw nila ang POGO. Illegal ito sa China kaya hindi dapat ipagpatuloy itong POGO, iyan ang sabi ng bansang China. Nag-object sila sa Cambodia kaya naipasara ang POGOs doon,” he noted. “Sa akin, dapat isara itong POGO na ito.”
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