‘You are being misled by your people,’ Gordon tells Duterte on POGO issue
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday directly addressed President Rodrigo Duterte as being misled by his own people when the latter dismissed money laundering allegations against Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).
Gordon chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee which is investigating the millions of dollars of “dirty money” suspiciously entering the country.
“I wish the President wouldn’t make remarks like that especially since a co-equal branch of government is investigating a very, very serious situation where hundreds of millions of dollars are coming into our country,” Gordon told reporters in an interview.
“I think he’s being misled. Mr. President, you are being misled by your people. You better check, you’re a lawyer as well, most respectfully,” he added.
On Monday, Duterte said he obtained a list of bank deposits and found no proof of money laundering activities linked to Pogos.
This, even after the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) told senators in a hearing last week that P14 billion of the P54 billion in transactions by POGOs from 2017 to 2019 were linked to “suspicious activities.”
“Mr. President, kung titignan niyo, daan-daang milyon, e unang-una napakadelikado niyan para sa bansa, and definitely the Senate is four-square on this investigation because nakikita nila talaga na bulto-bulto,” Gordon said.
(Mr. President, if you look at it, it’s millions of dollars, first of all that is very dangerous for the country and and definitely the Senate is four-square on this investigation because we see the volumes of the money coming in.)
Figures presented by AMLC Executive Director Mel Racela during hearing showed that around P138 million in Pogo transactions were linked to drug trafficking.
Probe to push through
Gordon said his investigation on the issue will still push through despite the recent pronouncement coming from the President.
“We don’t stop because this is a democracy, we don’t stop our investigation just because somebody is saying ‘No, that’s not true.’ E anong mangyayari sa mga imbestigasyon dito? Wala na tayong imbestigasyon ‘pag sinabi nung isang tao, hindi na tayo gagalaw? Hindi pwede yon,” he said.
(We don’t stop because this is a democracy, we don’t stop our investigation just because somebody is saying ‘No, that’s not true.’ What will happen then to the investigation being conducted here? We won’t do them anymore because of someone, we won’t act on it? That should not happen.)
Gordon said given AMLC’s own declarations, he is convinced that there is money laundering in POGOs.
“Unfortunately, some of his (Duterte) people perhaps… cannot see the handwriting on the wall,” he said.
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