Pagcor: Stricter rules needed to control Pogo

Pagcor: Stricter rules needed to control Pogo

Pagcor: Stricter rules needed to control Pogo

PROBE The Pampanga provincial board, led by Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda, conducts its second hearing into the illegal and criminal activities of a Philippine offshore gaming operator that authorities
raided in Porac town early this month. —TONETTE T. OREJAS

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — An official of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has recommended the imposition of additional requirements to enable the national government and local government units (LGUs) to stop the illegal activities of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) in the country.

“Mas maraming dapat gawin (There are many tasks to do),” lawyer Jessa Mariz Fernandez, assistant vice president of Pagcor offshore gaming licensing department, told Pampanga Vice Gov. Lilia Pineda as the provincial board wrapped up its second hearing into the illegal operations of Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Inc. on Friday here.


The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) raided Lucky South’s 10-hectare compound in the boundaries of Porac and Angeles City on June 4 and June 5 over reported human trafficking, torture, and money scams. PAOCC representatives failed to attend Friday’s hearing.


Interviewed by the Inquirer after the five-hour hearing, Fernandez said the registration process of Pogos in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should be more stringent while the internet provider of these hubs should be declared and should agree to terminate the service after reports of illegal activities.

READ: Pogo posed as BPO, duped local gov’t — Porac execs

She also suggested tighter coordination with local governments, starting from the application to the cancellation of the license.

Section 10 of Republic Act No. 9487, which introduced amendments to the Pagcor law, did not include the provincial governments in the regulation of gaming establishments. The law, however, states that Pagcor should deal with city and municipal governments, an Inquirer research showed.

Fernandez told the board that the license of Lucky South had expired in 2023. The license covered only a single building, not the other 45 structures constructed within the fenced property in Barangay Sta. Cruz.

She said that when the firm reapplied in 2024, the license was not approved, making its continued operations in Porac illegal.


One and the same

Porac Mayor Jaime Capil complained that during the five years that Lucky South did business in his town, Pagcor had “not communicated” with the local government on the status of the firm’s operation.

“I was never informed [of the status of Lucky South],” he said.

Board Member Ananias Canlas Jr., a lawyer, said the board had unmasked the corporate veil on Whirlwind and Lucky South.

“It has the same incorporators,” he noted, showing SEC documents. Supposedly, the Cruz family sold the land to Whirlwind, which in turn leased the land to Lucky South.

Stephanie Mascareñas, an incorporator of Lucky South who was invited to the hearing, confirmed she had a paid up capital of P9 million, that was settled in cash.

READ: Bad for relations: China presses PH to ban Pogos

But in the hearing, she denied that the money was hers and told board members that she allowed herself to be used in exchange for continued employment after her stint in Dragon Wealth, a service provider for Lucky South in 2019.

The Department of Labor and Employment reported issuing alien employment permits to 149 Lucky South workers while the Bureau of Immigration (BI) granted tourist visas to 883 foreigners, mostly Chinese, with links to the Pogo firm.

Apalit Mayor Oscar Tetangco Jr. urged the BI to arrest the 643 foreigners who might have escaped during the two raids.

Lost revenues

The provincial government has lost revenues from real property taxes initially estimated at P50 million. “We shall demand payments,” Canlas said.

Pineda saw red flags when the Angeles Electric Co. reported that Lucky South incurred a monthly bill of P12 million.

Another red flag surfaced when a compound in Barangay Señora, also in Porac, was discovered to also host a mansion being used by Lucky South. The board learned that the house was constructed without a building permit and was registered to one of the helpers working for Lucky South.

The Pampanga chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines has submitted to the board a resolution supporting the banning of Pogos in the province.

Lucky South, according to Pineda, “damaged the reputation of Pampanga.”

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She asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government to refresh local executives on the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 to help them assert their visitorial rights over suspicious establishments and personalities amid what she called “lapses” by Porac officials and several department heads in issuing permits and conducting inspections.

TAGS: Pagcor, pogo, Porac

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