Senators see Pogos as nat’l security threat: ‘Shut them down, deport them’

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Chiz Escudero on Thursday expressed support for Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.’s call to stop the operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) near military bases in the country.

But while he backed Teodoro’s view, Escudero emphasized that all illegal Pogo operations must be stopped.

“I agree with Sec. Teodoro who seems to be referring to illegal Pogo operations because he said that [they] ‘do not operate as intended,’” Escudero told reporters in a Viber message when he was asked to comment on the matter.

“In fact, all illegal Pogos should be closed whether they are close to our military bases or not and their perpetrators arrested,” he noted.

The Senate chief, however, said if Teodoro is referring to legal Pogos, then the Senate leader suggested that the defense official should discuss his concern with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The lawmaker cited possible “involve[ment of] national security.”

For his part, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said apart from the security concerns raised on Pogo operations, reports of about 250 Pogos operating without licenses should prompt authorities to conduct a “crackdown” on these firms.

“Kung may sapat na impormasyon na ang Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation tungkol dito, huwag na sana silang magpatumpik-tumpik pa sa pagpapasara ng mga ilegal o unlicensed na Pogos,” he said in a statement.

(If Pagcor has enough information about this, I hope it not waste time and close these illegal and unlicensed Pogos.)

“Walang mabuting naidudulot ang patuloy nilang pamamalagi sa atin dahil bukod sa hindi naman sila nagbabayad ng kaukulang buwis, samu’t saring krimen at paglabag sa ating batas ang ginagawa ng mga ito,” Estrada said.

(This brings us no good and they will continue to stay here. They are not paying taxes and they bring various crimes and are going against our laws.)

The senator is the chairperson of the Senate panel on national defense.