Lawmaker wants LGUs liable for failed monitoring of POGOs

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
Lawmaker wants LGUs liable for failed monitoring of POGOs
Win Gatchalian on May 3, 2024.
STAR / Ryan Baldemor

MANILA, Philippines — Local government officials must be held accountable for failure to properly monitor Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), a lawmaker said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said local government units should have been responsible in keeping an eye on the possible illegal activities of POGOs in their jurisdictions.

“Certain LGU personnel have been neglectful of their duties for a POGO hub to commit crimes and remain undetected and concerned LGU officials should be held accountable,” Gatchalian said.

This comes as the provincial board of Pampanga conducts an investigation following a police raid on a POGO compound in Porac and Angeles City.

The compound was discovered to be a site of various crimes including torture, human and sex trafficking and online scamming, among others.

Gatchalian said other LGUs should imitate such an initiative.

POGOs are yet again in the spotlight because of embattled Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo.

Lawmakers are also calling on President Marcos to ban POGOs amid the industry’s threat to national security and ties to organized crimes.

The industry has been tagged as a breeding ground for various criminalities such as human trafficking, kidnapping and torture, as well as other investment scams.

Gatchalian argued that mayors, barangay officials and other LGU executives should be vigorous in going after suspicious activities within their respective localities.

“LGUs should show tenacity in their commitment to maintaining peace and order in their localities as this is a necessary prelude to sustainable economic development,” Gatchalian said.

“Better yet, LGUs should seriously consider banning all POGO operations in their jurisdictions,” he said.

No less than Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said he has no objection in banning the sector as he agreed that the social costs of POGOs outweigh the minimal contribution of its continued operation.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., however, warned that the Philippines is expected to lose at least P20 billion annually if the government heeds to the call to ban POGOs.

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