Call to shut POGOs gets ‘enough support’ in Senate – Gatchalian

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 20) — The proposal to expel Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country has made headway in the Senate, according to Sen. Win Gatchalian.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said the call for the immediate expulsion of POGOs “mustered enough support” from the panel's members.

“Isa itong mahalagang hakbang para mapigilan ang paglaganap ng krimeng nagmumula sa ilang kumpanya ng POGO. Inaasahan natin na maabot ang ating layunin na mapanatili ang kaayusan sa bansa, na siyang magdudulot ng paglago ng ating ekonomiya,” Gatchalian said in a statement on Wednesday.

[Translation: This is an important step to prevent the spread of crime coming from some POGO companies. We hope to achieve our goal of maintaining order in the country, which will lead to the growth of our economy.]

He also formally filed Committee Report No. 136 containing the recommendation.

It took more than six months for the committee report to get enough signatures after Gatchalian delivered a privilege speech in March calling on colleagues to support the report.

It will be tackled next in the plenary after securing ten signatures, which include Gatchalian’s and Committee on Public Order chairman Bato dela Rosa.

Several crimes have been linked to POGOs, prompting some lawmakers to call for its ban in the country. However, monetary officials said banning their operations would result in billions of pesos in revenue losses.

READ: PH's gamble on the multi-billion peso POGO industry

Gatchalian reiterated on Wednesday that the revenue being contributed by POGOs “is not worth the massive social costs associated with POGO-related crimes.”

While the lawmaker has been vocal against POGOs, the Gatchalian family has stakes in Waterfront hotels and casinos in the country. Earlier, the senator denied his direct involvement in a Manila Bay reclamation project being conducted by Waterfront Manila Premier Development Inc.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.