MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian is urging local government units (LGUs) where Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) operate to make a stand about maintaining the industry’s presence in their respective localities.
Gatchalian noted that certain LGUS, especially those considered hubs of POGOs, have started to recognize the implications of allowing POGO operations in their respective jurisdictions. Such LGUs include Manila, Pasay and Paranaque.
“Once a crime happens in your jurisdiction, it’s the mayor’s responsibility and the local chief of police’s responsibility. So, it becomes a local issue and it becomes the problem of the community,” Gatchalian pointed out, noting that Pasig City was the first LGU to approve an ordinance banning POGOs after recognizing that the social costs of POGO operations outweigh the benefits derived from them.
“What we should strive for is a peaceful and orderly society, a country that we can invite our friends and tourists from abroad to come to. They will not come here if they read in the reports that people are being illegally detained,” Gatchalian said.
He emphasized that organizations that are capable of kidnapping and illegally detaining people are not businesses but criminal syndicates.
“Only criminal syndicates can illegally detain people and that creates an environment that is not stable for all of us. I’m afraid that if we do not stop this, it will cascade to enforcers, and one day, we will have a difficult time mobilizing enforcers as well because they are already taken hold by these criminal operations,” he added.
“Let’s not attract investors that bring crimes. It’s like we’re clinging to a knife. There are legitimate investors who can bring in capital investments, and increase jobs,” he emphasized. The senator added that in the case of POGOs, 90% of their employees are foreign nationals and only 10% are Filipinos. “We are not creating value for our own citizens,” he stressed.
As the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, which conducted an inquiry into the social and economic costs of maintaining POGO operations in the country, Gatchalian recommended the immediate ban of POGOs in the country.