Exclusion of provinces from Pogo regulation hit

Exclusion of provinces from Pogo regulation hit

Exclusion of provinces from Pogo regulation hit

STONE’S THROW AWAY The compound of real estate firm Baofu, which hosts a Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) hub allegedly involved in fraud, cybercrime and other illegal activities, is just a stone’s throw away from the town hall of Bamban in Tarlac province. —Paulo Gee Santos/contributor

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA, Philippines — Tarlac Gov. Susan Yap has found fault in excluding provincial governments from regulating Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo), several of which have been raided for being involved in illegal and criminal activities.

In an interview on Wednesday, Yap said the real estate firm Baofu in Bamban town was a case in point in her province.


The National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration raided a Baofu Real Estate Co. Ltd. compound in Barangay Anupul behind the Bamban municipal hall on Dec. 2, 2020.


At least 332 foreigners, mostly Chinese, who were allegedly engaged in online gambling, internet fraud and other cybercrime operations, were arrested during the raid.

READ: Pogo crackdown widens; ‘250 to 300’ not licensed

But despite the provincial board’s Resolution No. 010-2021, which was issued on Jan. 14, 2021, and which “[denounced] the alleged conduct of online/offshore gambling and cybercrime operations in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac, and [declared] the anti-illegal gambling policy of the provincial government of Tarlac,” Baofu managed to make a comeback as Baofu Land Development Inc.

The company has been linked to Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, who was suspended in early June by the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Guo divested her shares in Baofu through a deed of assignment for P2.5 million that was found to be “grossly incongruent” with her 8-hectare investment in the firm.

READ: Pogo probe: Guo, 2 other Bamban execs suspended



A raid by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission in the same compound on March 13 gave Baofu away. That time, it hosted a Pogo operated by Zun Yuan Technology Inc., which was implicated in cyberfraud, human trafficking and possible money laundering.

Asked why Baofu kept doing business in Bamban despite the provincial government’s anti-illegal gambling policy in 2021, Yap, in a text message, said: “Because national licensing agencies exclude us (the provincial government) from the process.”

“No notice, no communication. So, we are unaware,” she added, referring to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

The governor further shared: “It’s funny, there was one Pagcor official [who was] interviewed and said that even they couldn’t enter the facilities. What’s that? They issued a permit, and they can’t even inspect [the compound]?”

According to Yap, “they seem to be pushing the blame on the province when the national [government] has the jurisdiction,” noting that the situation of Guo’s nationality was a “different matter.”

In Resolution No. 206-2024, which reiterated the anti-illegal gambling policy in the 2021 resolution, the governor and the provincial board said that “records of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan do not show any resolution authorizing or granting any entity, public or private, local or foreign, to engage in or operate Pogos within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Tarlac.”

In the same resolution dated May 27, the officials resolved to “take appropriate measures within its prescribed powers, to ban the operations of Pogos and to curtail the proliferation of illegal activities in the Province of Tarlac linked to the operation of the said Pogo.”

Before the March 13 raid on Zun Yuan, Hongsheng Gaming Technology Inc. in the same Baofu compound was raided for alleged fraudulent cryptocurrency investment operations.

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Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda earlier pointed out that Pagcor gave the regulatory functions to municipal or city governments but not to provincial governments, making it difficult to oversee Pogos.

TAGS: POGO raids, Susan Yap, Tarlac

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