President Rodrigo Duterte is open to shutting down temporarily Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) after lawmakers uncovered widespread money laundering, corruption and other crimes in this booming industry.
This was revealed by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo who noted the four-day shutdown of 21,000 lotto operators nationwide due to widespread corruption in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Si Presidente, if you remember, has suspended the operations of lotteries when he received certain complaints of anomalies? Eh ‘di ganun din ‘yun. Kung talagang grabe ba ang complaints eh may gagawin si Presidente dyan,” Panelo said in an ambush interview.
Panelo said Duterte still believed that POGOs would benefit the country but he could not ignore reports that POGOs have smuggled billions of dirty money into the country, boosted corruption, and triggered more kidnappings, extortion, prostitution and murder.
“The fact that it has been there, I suppose there’s good in it. But of course, there are also, as we have received reports, there have been many instances of using it in illegal practices,” Panelo said. “It’s not naman the POGO itself eh, it’s the people running it. Then you change the people, not the system. You improve the system.”
Duterte had previously rejected China President Xi Jinping’s plea to ban POGOs because of their adverse impact on his citizens.