Pogo: Who made money during P-Noy’s time?
All hot talk about Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) reminds me of Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s time when economic zone authorities only collected more or less P56 million a year in revenues out of more than 200 permits they approved. Compare this to new Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) management headed by Chair Andrea Domingo with improved revenues, from P72 million in 2016 to P3.12 billion in 2017 to P6.11 billion in 2018 and to P5.73 billion in 2019. She also raised a total of P18 billion in application, processing and regulatory fees from 70,000 registered Pogo workers employed by 48 operational Pogo licenses and 239 service providers. In all, P33.03-billion revenues went straight to government.
It is mind-boggling that Pogos managed to earn only P56-million revenues in 2015 but ballooned to P5.73 billion in 2019. Where did the difference go during P-Noy’s time? Your guess is as good as mine.
But Chinese workers in both registered and illegal Pogos really created “new social ills,” e.g. breeding corruption at the Bureau of Immigration’s “visa on arrival” scheme, proliferation of exclusive Chinese prostitution dens and common crimes between themselves. From purely “police matters,” exposés of money laundering and issues of espionage are now surfacing.
At the same time, China launched a worldwide crackdown on their fugitives with criminal records and retrieve “stolen assets” from their government. “Fox Hunt Overseas Operation” and Skynet-19 with their operatives netted more than 2,000 criminals, including some from Pogo operations in the Philippines.In response, the Pagcor together with the Department of Justice wanted to create a “Pogo operations center” to coordinate all actions by law enforcement agencies against illegal gambling, cybercrime fraud, money laundering while working with the Chinese Embassy on other concerns.
A big positive step, but what is very difficult to stop is the sweet temptation of corruption in this billion-peso industry.
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Makati Mayor Abby Binay gets things done for public school children no matter what.
Of the P3.3-billion budget for education programs in 2020, she set aside P1.6 billion for Project FREE (Free Relevant and Excellent Education). This includes a pair of rubber shoes, white socks, raincoats and boots, hooded jackets, emergency go kits, antidengue kits, dental hygiene kits and tumblers for schoolchildren.
Also free are school supplies, e.g. notebooks, learning and teaching materials, pens, pencils from preschool to senior high school; school bags for kinder, SPED and Grade 1 pupils; and black leather shoes and ready-to-wear school uniforms from preschool to senior high school. The figure represents a 30-percent rise from last year. Moreover, the city shoulders expenses for its public schools’ graduation rites and students’ insurance coverage, among others. She also increased to P130 million the budget for “free educational field trips” for students.
Mayor Abby leads the way in empowering her youthful constituents through education, which she calls the great equalizer to having a good future.
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Holdups and snatchings have returned to the 2-kilometer stretch of Roxas Boulevard service road between Vito Cruz Street and Buendia Avenue in Pasay City.
Tourists, employees, commuters are common victims of “riding in tandem” holduppers and snatchers who strike from late afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Reports say there are zero “police presence” and foot patrols in the area and police response to complaints is anemic. Attention: National Capital Region Police Office chief Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas and Southern Police District chief Police Brig. Gen. Nolasco Bathan.
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