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Pagcor intensifies policing of POGOs 

IT is important to note that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has been earnestly doing its utmost to ensure that POGOs, or the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators are cleared of criminal elements as it means that additional income streams for funding help for typhoon victims like this recent one of “Paeng,” fire victims and wounded soldiers as well as extra dividends for the government continue.

Pagcor Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco is spearheading government efforts to erase the blot that POGO kidnapping incidents had smeared on the operations of legitimate enterprises, and that is commendable as it translates to the continued income stream from the licensed gaming operators not just for Pagcor but for the government coffers. After all, with the economic difficulties due to the Ukraine conflict, the government needs to raise more revenues to address social issues in the country.

This is what is needed in this tough economic climate that the Philippines like the rest of the world is in. Tengco’s push for an inter-agency collaboration is a welcome step, especially with the findings that most of the criminal activities that concerned POGOs happened outside the legal sphere of legitimate POGO operators. By taking out the illegitimate operators, which after all do not contribute to government revenues, Pagcor is not denied this income stream.

Last month, Tengco met with the top officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ) Philippine National Police (PNP), and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to map out plans to address the problem of illegal POGO operators. And so far, the government has been able to identify and close some illegal operators. It is still a tough hurdle though as illegitimate operators mask their activities through a slew of techniques such as masquerading as BPO operations.

In that inter-agency meeting, the DILG, DOJ, NBI, and PNP committed to help safeguard the welfare and safety not only of Filipinos but also of foreign nationals working in the country. According to Tengco, the inter-agency collaboration is a response to the instruction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address the recent POGO-related kidnapping cases and other illegal activities. “The President said na higpitan na natin because the image of the country and of this administration is being tarnished by these illegal incidents,” he said.

Absent these illegitimate operations of POGOs, the government will be able to address social issues that have gone up with the worsening economic conditions brought about by the increase in energy prices due to supply constraints arising from the Ukraine conflict, the higher peso payments for our dollar borrowings due to the decline in the value of our currency to that of the US dollar, and higher government deficit.

For instance, Pagcor has been building evacuation centers to house typhoon victims. The construction of these centers assures Filipinos who are “evicted” from their houses due to floods do not suffer the ignominy of being herded to outdoor basketball courts and exposed to the elements. There are still six to 10 strong typhoons out of the 20 or so that are seen visiting the country and these usually lead to flooded neighborhoods.

And with climate change, the typhoons bring more torrential rains such that last Saturday, residents in Noveleta, Cavite experienced for the first time floodwaters up to their chest. In fact, there were several Facebook postings by distraught residents of Cavite who were sharing videos of their own predicament with full views of floodwaters inside their houses already chest-deep and with the continued pitter-patter of the rains.

Ten days ago, Pagcor extended assistance to victims of two fire incidents in Quezon City. There were 250 non-food packs containing blankets, mosquito nets, slippers and toiletries that were delivered to victims of a fire incident in Barangay Obrero and cash assistance to families of those who perished in a neighborhood fire in UP Campus. These social issues are being addressed because of revenues that Pagcor generate from its regulatory framework that include that of POGOs.

There are many other projects and assistance that Pagcor has been doing, and it’s reassuring to know that Tengco is seeking help from other government agencies in solving problems associated with POGOs.

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