‘Ex-Cabinet official’ tried lobbying for illegal POGOs – Pagcor

Michelle Abad

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‘Ex-Cabinet official’ tried lobbying for illegal POGOs – Pagcor

Marian Hukom/Rappler

Pagcor chief Alejandro Tengco will name the 'former high ranking government official' who tried to facilitate the grant of licenses to the POGOs 'in the proper forum'

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said on Saturday, June 29, that a “former high ranking government official” tried to facilitate the grant of gaming licenses to some of the illegal Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) that were raided and found to be involved in illegal activities.

‘Ex-Cabinet official’ tried lobbying for illegal POGOs – Pagcor

In a statement on Saturday, Pagcor did not name the supposed ex-Cabinet official, but said that Pagcor chief Alejandro Tengco will reveal the person’s identity “in the proper forum.” No other details were given.

Tengco said that those investigating suspicious activities of former POGO licensees should also look into how former officials and their conduits may have been involved in granting licenses to POGO applicants with dubious backgrounds.

Pagcor has a mandate of ensuring only those with valid licenses are allowed to operate in all forms of gambling or gaming activities, whether in physical casinos or online platforms.

“It is in the interest of the government to crack the whip against illegal operators, including the so-called offshore gaming operators or POGOs and their backers, because the criminal activities associated with their illegal operations pose serious threats to our people,” said Tengco.

Tengco questioned how the POGOs were able to secure their licenses in the first place, because during his agency’s cleansing process, most were found to be “ineligible and outright suspicious.”

“We are also ready to reveal the roles of other controversial individuals behind these criminal POGO enterprises,” he added.

POGOs thrived under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who cited the supposed economic benefits of POGOs. Reports of trafficking, kidnapping, murder, torture, prostitution, and other abuses have been linked to POGOs. Gambling is illegal in China, which is why Chinese operators chose to set up shop in China-leaning Duterte’s Philippines.

The Pagcor under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been weeding out illegal POGOs, decreasing the number of licensees from 298 in Duterte’s administration to just 43 at present.

While abuses in POGOs have long been reported, POGOs are again under the national spotlight with the case of Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, who was linked to a raided POGO in her small town in Tarlac.

A Senate investigation that started with the alleged abuses in a Bamban POGO has expanded to questions on national security, especially with surfacing evidence that may prove Guo to be a Chinese national who faked her Filipino citizenship to win the post and facilitate the POGO’s illegal activities.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is leading the investigation as chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, had said on Thursday that their investigation will continue to “dig deeper and locate the systemic roots” of the POGO problem. – Rappler.com


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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.