PRRD backs moratorium on POGO applications

President Rodrigo Duterte is backing the decision of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to stop accepting licenses for Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) until all concerns have been addressed, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Duterte respects the heads of departments and offices and will always let them do their jobs unless he decides otherwise.

“Until the President reverses the stand of Pagcor, that remains to be the policy. Because the President always respects heads of departments and offices to do their duty and undertaking,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Asked if the Philippine government has any intention to follow the steps of Cambodia, whose government bared that it will be banning online gambling following the rise of Chinese-run casinos in the country as a threat to their social order, Panelo explained the difference between Cambodia and Philippine laws.

“The difference probably is, in Cambodia, gambling is illegal while in this country, it is not. That is why we have POGOs,” he said.

Panelo said it would be up to security forces to decide whether POGOs pose a threat to the Philippines’ social order.

He also pointed out that POGOs remain as a “legitimate revenue-making” project in the country.

PAGCOR earlier bared that it has suspended POGO applications after lawmakers warned that the proliferation of these online gaming operations could have security and labor concerns.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he also backed the proposal to place the Chinese POGOs in a hub away from military camps and other vital installations to allay fears of espionage.

Panelo, however, said that Duterte was not worried about the presence of POGOs near military camps because the Philippines has its own intelligence-gathering capabilities.

He noted that Duterte also said that Chinese workers could still spy on the military even if they were placed away from their bases. PNA