Without third-party auditor, POGOs must be driven out – Gatchalian
MANILA, Philippines — The termination of the P6-billion contract between the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and its controversial third-party auditor should set enough grounds to drive out Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.
Gatchalian cited a provision in the Republic Act 11590, which says that Pagcor “shall engage the services of a third-party audit platform that would determine the gross gaming revenues or recipes of offshore gaming licensees.”
But Pagcor earlier announced that it had ended its consultancy contract with Global ComRCI–tasked to audit the earnings of legal POGOs–after it deemed the private consortium remiss of its obligations.
“If you apply the law strictly, it’s very specific that there must be third-party monitoring. Because there’s no third-party auditor now, no one is monitoring POGOs. So there’s a violation of the law, if you ask me,” Gatchalian said, speaking in a mix of Filipino and English, in a media interview at the Senate.
Gatchalian recalled speaking to Sen. Francis Tolentino, who leads the upper chamber’s blue ribbon and justice and human rights panels, to point out that the absence of a third-party auditor should be raised in the investigation since it deals with a possible violation of the law.
“But of course, we have to discuss that because that’s my own interpretation,” he said.
The law also states that the third-party auditor “shall be independent, reputable, internationally-known, and duly accredited as such by an accrediting or similar agency recognized by industry experts.”
Global ComRCI was thrown in hot water after senators raised a slew of doubts about its qualifications and competence.
Gatchalian, who led the Senate ways and means panel in its inquiry into the socioeconomic cost of POGOs even called Global ComRCI “not credible, not qualified…not qualified.”
Gatchalian, through his chairman’s report, has proposed a total ban on POGOs, arguing that Filipinos “stand to lose more than they will gain” from the continued operations of offshore gaming operators in the country.
He has since claimed that his recommendation to permanently ban POGOS was already gaining support from the members of his committee.