THE Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) may continue to operate in “controlled areas” despite concern over illegal activities associated with them, a draft committee report in the Senate has recommended.
The draft report of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald dela Rosa has a different approach to the POGO problem than another committee that held with it joint hearings on the issues. The Ways and Means committee chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian recently revealed it is circulating for members’ signatures a draft report calling for the scuttling of POGOs, on the ground that the socioeconomic problems they cause far outweigh the benefits.
However, the Public Order committee’s initial report declined calls to shut down POGO operators, said Senator dela Rosa, confirming his panel’s decision not to endorse shutting down the POGOs
As chairman of the committee, he confirmed that the panel tackled the report and proceeded to recommend continued operations of POGOs, but placing them under strict regulations, and only in controlled areas, such as so-called economic zones.
Dela Rosa clarified the need to confine operations only in controlled areas where POGOs can operate and closely monitored to avert potential crimes linked to them such as abductions, robberies and prostitution, killings and illegal possession of firearms.
The separate draft report of Gatchalian’s Ways and Means committee had cited findings on the effects on the economy and society of the operations of the so-called POGOs, including the alleged “reputational risk” to the country earlier cited by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Real property experts, on the other hand, said a sudden, total ban on POGOs would impact the economy, as property giants account for a big chunk of listed firms.
The draft committee report being circulated by Gatchalian before the Holy Week endorsed the shutdown of POGO operations and the deportation of alien workers; as well as measures to help displaced Filipino workers get other jobs.