Roque: Premature to link Chinese-staffed POGOs, unregistered clinics for Chinese patients

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Roque: Premature to link Chinese-staffed POGOs, unregistered clinics for Chinese patients
Clark officials have ordered the closure and full lockdown of Fontana Leisure Park inside the Clark Freeport following the raid.
Release / Clark Development Corporation

MANILA, Philippines — It is premature to link illegal clinics with Philippine offshore gaming operators because none of the gambling entities have resumed operations, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said POGOs have yet to comply with the requirement to present a tax clearance to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

"None of the POGOs are operating. According to the BIR, they have not submitted tax clearances. So, I think that question is premature," Roque said when asked whether it is time to review the operations of POGOs because of the discovery of illegal health facilities that cater to Chinese nationals.

"Let's not attribute anything because the industry has not resumed its operation," he added.

Roque said cases would be filed against operators of the makeshift clinics for illegal practice of medicine, illegal sale of  unregistered pharmaceutical products and violation if the quarantine law.

The National Bureau of Investigation said in late May that it may launch an investigation into a makeshift and unregistered clinic for Chinese patients at  Fontana Leisure in Clark Freeport, Pampanga. Two Chinese nationals — the owner of the facility and an alleged pharmacist — were arrested during the raid.

Authorities also discovered two illegal medical clinics and a medical stockroom in Parañaque City last April.

The POGO industry has seen an increase in Chinese nationals coming to the Philippines and prompted a Senate investigation into alleged bribery at the Bureau of Immigration.

The investigation also looked into prostitution and human trafficking linked to the POGOs. 

The government, particularly the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp., has been campaigning for the resumption of POGO operations, saying they would be a good source of much needed funds to address the COVID-19 health crisis.




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