Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan urged Duterte administration to revoke the licenses of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the Philippines.
‘’China is correct here. Cancel the POGO licenses on concerns of criminality and corruption. Gambling is illegal in China. This means that Chinese criminals run the POGOs here in the Philippines,” Pangilinan said.
The made the call as President Duterte leaves this week for China and discuss with Chinese President Xi Jingping on various issues, probably the contentious West Philippine Sea (WPS) United Nations Arbitration court decision.
China asked the Philippines to ban all forms of online gambling as it lauded the recent move of Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation’s (Pagcor) to suspend accepting applications for POGO.
In a statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said it noted and “appreciated” Pagcor’s announcement to suspend accepting POGO license application until concerns of all parties were “comfortably addressed.”
Geng said that he hope the Philippines will go further and ban all online gambling.
Senator Francis, for his part, asked: “It is the Philippine government that is condoning the operations of criminal syndicate?’’
‘’The sincerity of the anti-crime and anti-corruption campaign of this administration is placed in serious doubt with Chinese criminal syndicates being allowed to conduct illegal businesses freely in our midst,” he added.
Pangilinan pointed out that the pervasive presence of Chinese POGO workers in our neighborhoods has also fueled racial antagonism among local residents, who rightfully detest some of the foreigners’ dirty habit of smoking, among others.
There are issues as well of exploited Chinese workers, fly-by-night operators, and non-payment of taxes in this industry. All these should not be ignored,” he stressed.
At the same time, Pangilinan emphasized that no less than Philippine defense officials have raised the possibility of these POGOs being used to spy on Filipinos.