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Pagcor clarifies issues on POGOs raised in Senate

THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) thanked senators on Tuesday “for the opportunity to clarify matters related to the country’s offshore gaming license operations [POGO]” but sought to correct “the misinformation that arose from” the Ways and Means committee’s last hearing the day before.

First, Pagcor noted that among the crimes earlier associated with the POGO sector, there are no longer incidents of kidnapping.

“There have been no reported criminal activities or kidnapping-related incidents of workers in the offshore licensing industry for over three months. This came as a result of the interagency cooperation meeting held last September 2022 involving Pagcor, the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of the Interior and Local Government to combat illegal gaming operations, including offshore gaming,” said the Pagcor statement on Tuesday.

Likewise, it said, partnerships with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, the Bureau of Immigration and the Anti-Money Laundering Council “were strengthened to forestall any illegal activities and labor practices related to offshore gaming operations in the country.”

According to the state gaming regulator, it has been “closely monitoring the cases involving MOA Cloudzone Corp. and Brickhartz Technology Inc. While the former’s case was dismissed by the DOJ on November 5, 2022, the case involving Brickhartz Technology Inc. is still under investigation. We are coordinating with the PNP and other agencies regarding this matter.”

Pagcor stressed that “it does not take these reports lightly and it will ensure that all gaming licensees abide by the law,” and it was prepared to “take the necessary actions, including the cancellation of licenses and service provider accreditations, if found warranted.”

Its third-party auditor for offshore licensees (Global ComRCI), meanwhile, which had drawn attention at the Senate hearing, was awarded the contract in December 2017.  “The service provider went through proper bidding process and met all the legal requirements under the Procurement law,” said Pagcor.

“With the assumption of the new leadership of Pagcor, the contract of Global ComRCI was put under review last September 2022. We assure the senators that the review will soon be finished and released at the proper time.

“We have been in contact with Global ComRCI and are currently assessing the contract’s terms and conditions and the company’s performance.”

The offshore gaming industry has only been in existence in the Philippines under Pagcor over the last five years, the agency pointed out. “Aside from the taxes to the national and local governments, it currently employs an estimated 25,000 Filipinos and contributes billions of pesos to the local economy through real estate activities, consumption and indirect employment. It is Pagcor’s aim to nurture this industry as it believes it has much more to contribute to the Philippine economy and nation building.”

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