Senate panel asks NSC to help convince Marcos on POGO ban

Bonz Magsambol

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Senate panel asks NSC to help convince Marcos on POGO ban

OPPOSITION LEADER. Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros at a media forum on June 5, 2024.

Senate PRIB

'Sana i-bring up na rin nila ito kay Presidente para makapagsalita na sila tungkol sa usapin ng POGO bilang national security threat,' says Senator Risa Hontiveros

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate panel investigating the illegal activities of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators in the country has asked the National Security Council (NSC) to help convince President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ban POGOs.

Senate panel asks NSC to help convince Marcos on POGO ban

Senator Risa Hontiveros said this after leading an executive session on the illegal activities of POGOs and the alleged link to Bamban, Tarlac, Mayor Alice Guo to POGOs on Wednesday, June 5.

“‘Yun ‘yung isang ipinanawagan, o suggestion siya noong executive session, kineri ko po talaga bilang chair na tulad noong ipinanawagan ko na ilang beses kay Presidente na i-ban na ang POGO. Patigilin na ito, palabasin, paalisin na sila sa ating bayan. Na-raise din ‘yung ganyang panawagan sa executive session at nasabi po namin directly sa NSC, bilang sila ‘yung Council o body sa loob ng gobyerno natin na pinaka-concern sa usaping national security,” Hontiveros told reporters right after the executive session.

(That’s one of the calls. It’s a suggestion during the executive session, which I carried as chairman of the committee, like my previous calls for the President to ban POGO. It should be stopped, they should be expelled from the country. We raised this issue during the executive session and we told this directly to the NSC since they are the council or body in the government whose main concern are issues on national security threat.)

“So ngayon, ang inaasahan ko ay mismo ng National Security Council bilang body sa gobyerno na may…mandato tungkol sa national security ay sana i-bring up na rin nila ito kay Presidente para, para makapagsalita na sila tungkol sa usapin ng POGO bilang national security threat,” she added.

(So now, I expect the National Security Council, as the government body with the…mandate on national security to hopefully bring this up to the President so that they can discuss the aspect of POGOs as a national security threat.)

The senator refused to disclose more information about the matter since the meeting was done in an executive session where “in principle, discussions should be confidential.”

Senate panel asks NSC to help convince Marcos on POGO ban

The Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality led by Hontiveros held the executive session where the hacking of government websites and espionage were discussed. This was after senators found out that surveillance activities and even the hacking of government websites were traceable to the raided POGO firms in Bamban.

Senators are probing Guo’s alleged involvement in the two illegal POGOs – Hongsheng Gaming Technology Incorporated and Zun Yuan Technology Incorporated, located in the Baofu Compound of Bamban, Tarlac. The said POGOs were raided due to complaints of human trafficking and love scams.

Hontiveros said that the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) had conducted a “link analysis” between POGOs and several local government units and “influential figures.”

Since the issue on POGOs broke last year, Marcos has not given a firm stand on banning POGOs in the country. At the House committee level, lawmakers passed a bill banning POGOs in the country on February 12. Meanwhile, senators are divided on the issue because of its possible impact on the economy.

In June 2023, then-Senate president Migz Zubiri said that it was the call of the President to either stop or regulate POGO operations in the country since it’s the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, under the Office of the President, that oversees it. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.