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Palace: No blanket protection for POGO



Chief presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Salvador Panelo reiterated that nobody is enjoying any blanket protection from the government including operators of POGOs or (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) here in the country.

In an interview, Panelo denied insinuations that Chinese offshore gaming hubs are enjoying “blanket protections” amid several allegations of bribery and corruption here.

“We are prosecuting it. We are prosecuting all those committing illegal acts whether Chinese, Americans, foreigners. There are no sacred cows for the President,” Panelo said.

“Nobody is enjoying any blanket protection from this government. Regardless of who they are, even if they are Filipinos,” he added.

Panelo, however, did not discount the possibility of President Rodrigo Duterte temporarily suspending POGO operations in the country if Malacañang continues to receive complaints about it.

“The President, if you remember, suspended operations of lotteries when he received complaints of anomalies. Its just like that. If the complaints are already severe, the President will do something about it,” he explained,

Panelo said he will ask the President if he is in favor of banning POGO’s in the country due to the numerous controversies hounding it. Lawmakers are also crafting a law which will ban POGO operations here.

Senator Risa Hontiveros was previously quoted as saying that POGOs are a threat to the country’s national security.

“We will wait for their legislative work,” Panelo said.

“I cannot say whether it’s good for the country or not. The legislators are tasked to legislate rules that are good for the country. If they feel that it’s for the welfare of the country, we will evaluate if it’s true or not. But we will wait for them,” he added.

On the question whether POGOs are good for the country or not, Panelo said the fact that it has been there, “I supposed there is a good thing in it.”

“But of course there are also, as we have received reports, there have been many instances of abusing it for illegal practices,”

When asked if the President will outlaw POGOs in the country, Panelo said he is not sure about that.

“I don’t know whether he is open to outlaw, what I’m saying is he is against all corrupt practices and illegal acts,” Panelo said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) meanwhile revealed that it needs the help of gaming regulators to intensify the agency’s crackdown on alleged crimes that are linked to gambling hubs mostly run by Chinese nationals.

In a radio interview, PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said that officers no longer need to get a search warrant from courts to raid Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hubs if they are accompanied by representatives of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Elmer Manuel