PEZA to Duterte: We're not engaged in online gaming
MANILA, Philippines – After being accused of bribery for granting gaming licenses, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) clarified to President Rodrigo Duterte that it has nothing to do with regulating online gaming operations in the Philippines.
PEZA Director General Charito Plaza told the President in a letter that only the state-owned and -controlled Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has the authority to grant e-gaming franchises. (READ: Uncertainty hounds online gaming in the Philippines)
"May I be allowed to inform the President that online gaming or online gambling or any form of gambling operation is not registrable with PEZA and is not allowed by PEZA.... We have recognized and will continue to recognize that Pagcor has the sole and exclusive authority to grant franchises and regulate gambling operations in the country," Plaza said in the letter furnished to reporters on Thursday, December 22.
His letter was in response to Duterte's tirades that corruption was involved in granting gaming licenses.
"The one who gets appointed to PEZA, he gets about P300 billion selling the umbrella-type of license. It's good that I've learned about it," Duterte said in a speech after signing the 2017 national budget.
Clark Freeport is under BCDA
Duterte also cited the case of Jack Lam, the Macau-based gambling tycoon who government authorities have been hunting down over accusations he had tried to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Duterte said cases like this happened because of the weak leadership at PEZA. (READ: Duterte orders arrest of Jack Lam)
PEZA, however, also clarified that Clark Freeport Zone, where Lam was operating, is not administered by PEZA. "Rather it is administered by the Clark Development Corporation, which is under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority."
Plaza said her agency has never registered any online gaming or online gambling activity and has never included online gambling as an activity that can be registered with PEZA.
"We wish to assure the President that this policy of not registering online gaming or online gambling in PEZA will not change," Plaza said to Duterte, after the President publicly vowed to look for an "honest man" to appoint to PEZA.
e-Bingo operators react
In a separate disclosure, PhilWeb Corporation – one of the two listed companies that were previously granted a license by Pagcor to operate e-Bingo outlets – again denied being an online gaming firm.
"PhilWeb is a software provider to Pagcor for its network of e-Games outlets. PhilWeb does not engage in online gaming," it told the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The other company that operates e-Games outlets in the country is Leisure & Resorts World Corporation.
The gaming firm told the local bourse that "except for the television reports and online and newspaper articles relating to the pronouncement made by President Rodrigo Duterte, the company has no other information on the said pronouncement or order." – Rappler.com