Ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators Gains Support in Senate

September 21, 2023 | illegal gambling

MANILA, Philippines (September 21, 2023) — The Senate Ways and Means Committee in the Philippines has taken a significant step towards banning Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). Ten out of 18 committee members, including Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the panel, have signed Committee Report No. 136, which recommends the ban of POGOs. The move is seen as a way to maintain peace and order and sustain economic growth in the country.

The committee members who signed the report include Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III, and Senators Ronald dela Rosa, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Grace Poe, Raffy Tulfo, Pia Cayetano, and Risa Hontiveros.

While some senators indicated their intention to interpellate during the plenary session, Senator Gatchalian emphasized that the main point of deliberation would be the phase-out period for POGOs. He personally advocated for an immediate ban, but the timeline for the phase-out would be discussed further.

The rationale for the ban on POGOs centers on concerns about criminal activities associated with them. Senator Gatchalian stated that data had shown that criminals were using POGOs for various crimes, including human trafficking, cryptocurrency-related scams, and love scams. Several senators who signed the committee report expressed their support for the ban and cited the negative impact of POGOs on the country.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Risa Hontiveros indicated that they would interpellate and introduce amendments. Senator Pia Cayetano expressed her intention to interpellate, while Senator Raffy Tulfo aimed to seek an amendment to include Philippine inland gaming operations and other forms of online gaming in the ban.

Senator Hontiveros emphasized her long-standing call for the removal of POGOs from the country, citing their association with crimes and harm to women. She hoped that the ban would pass through Congress swiftly.

Senator Ejercito expressed his support for a phase-out period of two to three years to prevent a perception of inconsistency in policies within the international community. He advocated for a differentiation between legal and illegal POGOs, with the latter being banned immediately.

Senator Gatchalian highlighted that the economic impact of phasing out POGOs would not be significant, but the crimes related to POGOs, such as human trafficking and scams, tarnished the country’s image and reputation.

Citing data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Senator Gatchalian stated that POGO-related crimes had resulted in numerous victims and perpetrators, including human trafficking, abduction, homicide, illegal detention, and various other offenses.

Senator Gatchalian had consistently advocated for the closure of POGOs, arguing that any revenue generated from the industry did not outweigh the social costs associated with POGO-related crimes.

SOURCE: LI Contributor.

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