Abby Binay faces complaint over ‘proliferation’ of illegal gambling
An anti-corruption group has asked the Office of the Ombudsman to bring Makati City Mayor Mar-Len Abigail Binay to court for supposedly failing to eradicate illegal online gambling in the city.
In its eight-page complaint, the Anti-Trapo Movement accused Binay, Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) head Maribert Pagente and several John and Jane Does of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The complaint claimed that the city government had “remained oblivious and un-moving to permanently put a stop to these illegal activities, depriving not only the city of Makati but the national government of considerable income in taxes…”
It cited the police raid on Hao Ying Solutions, Inc., as proof that the city government has failed to address the “proliferation and continued operation of illegal online gambling in its jurisdiciton.” The alleged gambling den was supposedly disguised as a call center company.
The complaint also cited media reports over the past years in saying police and immigration authorities are aware that illegal gambling operations are “run by a well-connected syndicate.”
In a press release, ATM founding chairman Leon Peralta name-dropped President Rodrigo Duterte, saying the Makati City officials have been “blatantly defying” his pronouncements against illegal online gambling.
Asked in an interview how many illegal gambling outfits are there to say there was a “proliferation,” Peralta admitted: “Di ko matantiya (I don’t have an estimate).”
Binay’s spokesperson, however, said that the group was “sadly misinformed.”
City legal officer Michael Camiña said they haven’t received a copy of the complaint but he maintained that Makati has a strict policy against illegal gambling.
“Only gaming establishments with licenses from appropriate government agencies are allowed to operate within the city,” Camiña said in a statement.
“If they are referring to establishments issued permits and operating within economic zones, we would like to stress that these establishments applied for and were given business permits as support services to offshore gaming companies,” Camiña said.
“They are licensed by (the Philippine Economic Zone Authority). They should not be operating as gaming facilities,” he said.
Camiña said that in the last four months, the city government has ordered the closure of over 90 establishments, including online gaming firms, for operating without a valid license or violating the restrictions on their business permits. IDL/RAM/rga