MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte stood by his decision not to shut down Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) despite calls from lawmakers following the alleged influx of dirty money into the country through the online gambling industry.
On Tuesday, Duterte said that POGO operations are clean and generate huge revenues for the government.
“I will assure you under my oath of office as President of this Republic, as elected by you, ‘yang POGO na ‘yan, in so far kami dito, malinis ‘yan,” he said in a speech during an assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Pasay City.
Duterte made the statement following allegations that POGO’s operations in the country have spawned irregularities and increase in crime rates involving its workers, particularly Chinese nationals.
Some immigration officers were also accused of receiving pay-offs to facilitate the entry of fugitives and offshore gaming operations workers from China.
The latest controversy linking the offshore gaming hub was the alleged inflow of dirty money from abroad, which land in casinos and banks in the country. Some senators have alleged that this has become possible due to the proliferation of POGOs in the country.
Duterte, however, said everything that the government earns from POGOs goes to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and that the industry has generated thousands of local jobs for Filipinos.
“Laro ‘yan para lang sa kabila. But it employs something like 20,000 dito sa Maynila. Dito lang ‘yang POGO eh. Walang pera diyan. Diretso sa PAGCOR ‘yan,” he added.
The chief executive also insisted that there is no corruption in its operations, as it is monitored by the PAGCOR.
He also said the government gets P2 billion worth of revenues from the industry each month which can be used to fund government infrastructure projects and other programs. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)
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