Valenzuela City bans POGO operations

The city government of Valenzuela has prohibited the operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the city, Mayor Wes Gatchalian announced on Tuesday.

“Hindi isang ordinance ho ang ating pinasa at pinopromote, kundi tatlong ordinance ito. First is Ordinance No. 1105 disallowing POGOs within the territorial jurisdiction of Valenzuela City,” he said in a press conference.

(Not only one, but we passed three ordinances. First is Ordinance No. 1105 disallowing POGOs within the territorial jurisdiction of Valenzuela City.)

“Inuunahan ko bago pa dumating dito sa Valenzuela. Ayaw ko na pong dumating pa ‘yung punto na yun na ito pong mga isyu ng POGO ay darating din sa aming lungsod,” he added.

(I just preempted its impact before it penetrates Valenzuela. I don’t want to get to the point when issues involving POGOs will affect our city.)

According to Mayor Gatchalian, POGO operations sometimes lead to other crimes such as money laundering, prostitution, intimidation, kidnapping, and other “side business.”

He expressed concern that local government resources such as police assets are being used to address the problems relating to POGO operations instead of to other important matters.

A separate ordinance, Ordinance No. 93, has also been passed prohibiting new application of small town lottery and online gambling operations such as e-sabong, e-poker, among others, in the city.

The shutdown of POGO operations in the country was sought anew recently following the kidnapping of a Chinese national whose finger was cut off by the kidnappers.

The calls were supported by the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, which said that POGO paved the way for international syndicates to enter the country.

“Cambodia and Laos had a big crackdown against POGO that’s why they ran here so why is our country a safe haven for criminals and transnational syndicates like that? Where is the failure coming from?” said Teresita Ang-See, founding chairperson of the group, in a “24 Oras” report last week.

Among the lawmakers who are actively calling for the banning of POGOs are Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Grace Poe, Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian.

Citing data from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Senator Gatchalian said 58% of crimes related to POGOs are human trafficking cases.

A letter sent by the NBI containing the summary of POGO-related cases showed that POGO-related crimes have reached 113 from November 2019 to March 2023. Of which 65 or 58% of the total number of cases involved human trafficking.

Senator Gatchalian, who led the Senate Committee on Ways and Means inquiry into the socio-economic benefits of POGO in the country, said this is “concerning and alarming” and it can have serious implications in the country’s national security.

Hontiveros, for her part, has called on Malaca?ang to support a proposal in the Senate to totally ban POGOs in the country. –KBK, GMA Integrated News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: