Solon wants probe of other POGO sites after raid in Parañaque
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers belonging to the Bayan Muna party-list is urging the government to investigate other Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) sites for possible breach of lockdown rules after a recent raid of an illegal POGO site in Parañaque City.
Rep. Carlos Zarate said there might other illegal POGO sites running despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the Parañaque raid, police officers arrested 44 Chinese and nine Filipino nationals who were managing the POGO site while Luzon and other areas are under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Authorities also seized five pistols, over five belt bags, 400 cellular phones, and 17 desktop and 36 laptop computers.
“With this bulk of evidence, it’s either this group is part of a criminal syndicate in China or part of covert operations to subvert our laws and sovereignty,” Zarate said on Monday.
“An investigation is in order because these incidents only show that, despite the ring pandemic, these POGOs are operating with impunity because apparently they are being protected by unscrupulous and corrupt officials,” he noted
Zarate said that they had information showing several POGO sites are receiving aid from the government that should have been allocated to low-income families.
“Aside from this we have also received reports that POGOs are still business as usual in many areas, like in Las Piñas where POGO workers were reported to have also collected relief goods meant for local residents affected by the lockdown,” he said.
“We have also received reports that a residential unit that houses five to seven POGO workers, each one was given a quarantine pass, contrary to what is legally mandated,” he added.
Currently, POGOs have been suspended along with all work — except for frontline services — due to the ECQ over Luzon and other areas.
They are not slated to resume operations in areas under an ECQ and a general community quarantine (GCQ) after April 30. But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that they might be opened if government officials would so decide, to generate funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.
Administration critics, including Vice President Leni Robredo, opposed the opening of POGOs, as it would send a message that Chinese industries are allowed to open first before Filipino-owned companies.
The POGO industry grew under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, which has sought to strengthen ties between the Philippines and China.
However, this renewed relationship has also drawn the ire of opposition groups, as they believe a strict imposition of a ban on inbound flights from China — where the latest coronavirus originated — would have prevented the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.