Senators on Pogos: 'Shut them down, deport them'

Senators see Pogos as nat’l security threat: ‘Shut them down, deport them’

/ 11:50 AM June 13, 2024

Senators see Pogos as nat'l security threat: 'Shut them down, deport them'

Philippine offshore gaming operator Zun Yuan Technology Inc. (File photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Chiz Escudero on Thursday expressed support for Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.’s call to stop the operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) “out of our base.”

But while he backed Teodoro’s view, Escudero emphasized that all illegal Pogo operations must be stopped.


READ: Escudero floats total gambling ban amid Pogo issue: Bakit tayo mamimili lang?


“I agree with Sec. Teodoro who seems to be referring to illegal Pogo operations because he said that [they] ‘do not operate as intended,'” Escudero told reporters in a Viber message when he was asked to comment on the matter.

“In fact, all illegal Pogos should be closed whether they are close to our military bases or not and their perpetrators arrested,” he noted.

The Senate chief, however, said if Teodoro is referring to legal Pogos, then the Senate leader suggested that the defense official should discuss his concern with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The lawmaker cited possible “involve[ment of] national security.”

Contrary to earlier reports, the Department of National Defense clarified that the “base” that Teodoro was referring to was the country as a whole and not military bases.

“The base he was referring to is our financial, economic base—basically our country. He was not referring to a military camp or, in some reports, Edca sites, which is very far from what he meant,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.


READ: DND: Teodoro says Pogo a national security concern

Crackdown vs illegal Pogos

For his part, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said apart from the security concerns raised on Pogo operations, reports of about 250 Pogos operating without licenses should prompt authorities to conduct a “crackdown” on these firms.

“Kung may sapat na impormasyon na ang Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation tungkol dito, huwag na sana silang magpatumpik-tumpik pa sa pagpapasara ng mga ilegal o unlicensed na Pogos,” he said in a statement.

(If Pagcor has enough information about this, I hope it not waste time and close these illegal and unlicensed Pogos.)

“Walang mabuting naidudulot ang patuloy nilang pamamalagi sa atin dahil bukod sa hindi naman sila nagbabayad ng kaukulang buwis, samu’t saring krimen at paglabag sa ating batas ang ginagawa ng mga ito,” Estrada said.

(This brings us no good and they will continue to stay here. They are not paying taxes and they bring various crimes and are going against our laws.)

The senator is the chairperson of the Senate panel on national defense.


CRACKDOWN Some of the more than 800 Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) workers supposedly “rescued” from a complex run by a Chinese company in Bamban, Tarlac, await instructions from authorities. They include 497 foreigners, most of them Chinese. (File photo from the PRESIDENTIAL ANTI-ORGANIZED CRIME COMMISSION)

Shut them down now, deport them

Sen. Loren Legarda, on the other hand, emphasized that Pogos, in general, are a threat to national security.

“Recent discoveries have been very alarming on the human rights and national security fronts,” Legarda told reporters in a text message.

“Our law enforcement authorities must take drastic action to prevent further criminal elements to use Pogos as fronts and shut them down now,” she said.

The former Senate President Pro Tempore said there is also a need to deport the “mainland Chinese” who are illegally operating Pogos, “especially those involved in criminal activities.”

“This is for the sake of the Filipino nation,” she emphasized.

READ: Pogo operations near PH military bases should be stopped–Teodoro

Threat to national security

For his part, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian talked about the need to elevate Pogos to the level of a national security threat.

“Yan din ang sinabi ni Sec. Gibo noong na-interview siya — na ito ay national security concern kaya huwag na nating hintayin pang lumalim nang lumalim ang kanilang galamay,” said Gatchalian in an interview over Radyo 630 on Thursday.

(That’s what Sec. Gibo said when he was interviewed — this is a national security concern so let us not waste time and wait for its tentacles to spread out deeper.)

“Mahihirapan tayong bunutin ito kung lahat ng mga politiko (at) enforcement agencies ay nasa bulsa na nila at nalalagyan dahil malaking pera ang gumugulong dito sa negosyong ito,” he pointed out.

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(We will have a hard time plugging these roots from politicians and enforcement agencies because huge grease money is being put into their pockets. Huge amounts of money are rolling in these types of businesses.)

TAGS: POGOs, Senate

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