Salceda favors law enforcement, not ban, on Pogos
It’s like burning an entire house just to kill a rat.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, on Friday expressed reservations about a Senate panel’s recommendation to permanently outlaw Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogos).
In a statement, Salceda agreed that a ban “can only be done by law and until then, it won’t happen.”
However, “banning an entire business on the basis of issues that the law enforcement alone can address is like burning the whole house down to snuff out the rats,” he said.
“All issues raised about Pogos concern issues of law enforcement. The solution to law enforcement issues is frankly, to enforce the law,” Salceda said.
He added: “Enough safeguards exist in our laws to punish supposed crimes committed against Pogos, and enough mechanisms to exist to shut down any erring business.”
Salceda made the remarks after the Senate ways and means committee recommended a permanent ban on Pogos due to rampant crimes and high social costs blamed on online gambling.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the panel’s chairperson, said the proposed Pogo ban was an “important step” in preventing crimes coming from offshore gaming hubs.
Gatchalian cited data from the Philippine National Police, which showed that Pogos victimized 4,355 Filipinos, involving 903 perpetrators from January 2017 to June 30, 2023.
He added that thieves use Pogos to commit crimes like human trafficking and love scams.
The Senate panel also pushed for the cancellation and revocation of work visas issued to foreigners employed by Pogos.
Sen. JV Ejercito, however, reiterated that pulling the plug on Pogos should be done gradually to cushion its impact on those who would be losing their jobs.
“I made it clear before that I am not in favor of the abrupt banning of Pogos. I am in favor of a phaseout period,” Ejercito told reporters on Thursday.
He said he might take back his support for the total ban on Pogos if it would be done within three months as recommended by the Senate ways and means committee.