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Resumption of POGO ops would send ugly message to public – Robredo

/ 10:27 AM April 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Allowing the resumption of the operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) amid the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in key regions due to the novel coronavirus crisis would send an ugly message to the public, Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday.

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Vice President Leni Robredo (INQUIRER.net/Noy Morcoso)

“Pangit na mensahe na sila pa ang uunahing payagang magbukas kaysa sa mga negosyo na nage-employ ng mga Pilipino kasi ito nga kung kahilingan ng ating mga negosyante saka mga manggagawa,” Robredo said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

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(It would send an ugly message that we are allowing them to open first over businesses that employ Filipinos because that is the wish of many of our  businessmen and employees.)

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, who chairs the House appropriations committee, earlier asked the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to allow resumption of the operations of Pogos, saying that revenues from the industry would help the national government combat the health crisis.

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“Kung binabawalan natin yang mga para sa Pilipino, bakit bibigyan sila ng parang privilege na magbukas agad? (If we are not allowing Filipinos to resume operations yet, then why would we give Pogos the privilege to open right away?)” she added.

Robredo explained that Senate hearings conducted on the alleged illegal activities related to the Pogo industry have shown that Pogos have very little contribution to the country’s domestic economy.

“[It is] unfortunate kasi bago pa nangyari itong sitwasyon natin ngayon, nagkaroon ng several discussions tungkol dito. Alam natin na maraming mga katiwalian. Malaki yang social cost sa atin dahil dito sa proliferation ng Pogo,” Robredo said.

(It is unfortunate because even before the pandemic, we have had several discussions on this. We know that there are a lot of irregularities. The social cost because of the proliferation of Pogo is really huge.)

“If I am not mistaken, yang computation nila parang 0.4 percent lang ang contribution nito sa domestic economy (If I am not mistaken, the computation is they only contribute 0.4 percent to the domestic economy),” the Vice President pointed out.

In an earlier interview with INQUIRER.net, Yap explained that he only made the recommendation due to the P500 million revenues from the industry that could help poor Filipino families during the pandemic.

Pagcor suspended POGO operations in Luzon in compliance with the ECQ imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019  (COVID-19).

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Over the weekend, however, arrested 44 Chinese nationals and nine Filipinos for illegal POGO operations in Parañaque City despite the suspension.

Robredo said that the arrest would send a “big message” to the public that everyone is covered by the quarantine protocols.

“Mabuti namang hinuli sila kasi ito ‘yung mensahe na hindi tayo namimili, walang exempted dito sa panukalang ito. Yung kailangang managot ay papanagutin,” Robredo said.

(It is good that they were arrested because this is the message that we are not choosing who is covered by the protocols. No one is exempted. Those who need to be held accountable will be held accountable.)

“Malaking mensahe yung mas istrikto tayo sa kanila. Kasi ito mensahe rin ito—nakikita natin ito sa social media, maraming nagpapahayag na bakit ba mas favored sila kaysa sa amin na mga Pilipino,” she added.

(This is a huge message that we are more strict on them. We see that a lot of people on social media ask why they are being favored over Filipinos. This is a message.)

The Vice President said that those arrested should be held accountable and should be deported, if warranted.

“Sa akin kung may grounds for deportation, kailangan [sila ma-deport]. Naglabag sila ng batas. Kung ‘yung grounds nito kailangan silang ikulong o kailangan silang i-deport, kailangan gawin yun. Message ito hindi lang sa kanila pero message din ito sa mga Pilipino na walang sacred cows dito,” Robredo said.

(If there are grounds for deportation, then they should be deported. They violated the law. If the grounds require them to be jailed or deported, it should be done. It is a message not only to them but to Filipinos as well that there are no sacred cows here.)

GSG

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