Senators explain vote on Pogo ban
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Wednesday explained the reason behind their vote on the proposed permanent ban of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) after the Senate committee on ways and means’ report into the matter gained enough signatories.
Senator Imee Marcos said she did not sign the report because she wasn’t able to study it thoroughly.
“[A]ng kinatatakutan ko e malusutan lang kasi alam naman natin mga malalaking tao ang nasa likod ng Pogo. Hindi lamang malalaking tao sa sindikato kundi sa ating pamahalaan,” Marcos told reporters in an ambush interview.
(What I’m afraid of is that it will just get through because we know big people are behind Pogo. Not only big people in the syndicate but in our government.)
Sen. Marcos added that while there are evident problems linked to Pogos, she doesn’t want it to be “the same as agricultural smuggling which are not punished by those who actually operate.”
Senator Bong Go, on the other hand, stressed that if peace and order is being affected and if the lives of Filipinos are being affected, Pogos can already leave.
“Just make sure that those who lost their jobs will have another job,” said Go.
Senator JV Ejercito, although one of the signatories of the report, said he will seek amendment intending to suggest that legal Pogos be given a “phaseout period” while illegal Pogos should be “banned immediately.”
“There has to be preparation for those who will be displaced to have alternative employment and businesses related to Pogo to find alternative market[s] or businesses like real estate and others as well. Cancelling it abruptly might have consequences on different industries related to it,” said Ejercito.
“To clarify I am not for Pogo, [I] just want to soften [the] impact on its cancellation by phaseout instead,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros likewise supported the committee’s call, saying that she’s a firm believer that a total ban on Pogo is right and just.
“We ourselves in the Senate committee on women, we investigated [Pogo’s] involvement in prostitution, corruption especially in the Pastillas scam, human trafficking, and recently, that Pogos are also being used as legal cover by scam hubs. So I am also calling on the administration to take action against those Pogos so that they can be completely dismantled,” said Hontiveros in Filipino.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the committee on ways and means, said the recommendation to permanently ban Pogos in the country was contained in Committee Report No. 136 filed at the Senate on Tuesday.
The following senators signed the report:
- Senator Win Gatchalian
- Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa
- Senator JV Ejercito
- Senator Pia Cayetano
- Senator Grace Poe
- Senator Raffy Tulfo
- Senator Risa Hontiveros
- Senator Loren Legarda
- Senator Joel Villanueva
- Senator Koko Pimentel