Straight from her detention cell, Sen. Leila de Lima slipped out another note to defame the Duterte administration in an effort to stay relevant, but ends up incriminating herself yet again.
On the recent discovery of a clinic in Clark, Pampanga that allegedly caters exclusively to foreign workers of a non-accredited offshore gaming operator (NOGO), De Lima brandished this as a “secret hospital” and let out a rant that is more like a reflection of her past life.
De Lima, in her statement, said, “Katakataka namang magsulputang animo’y kabute ang mga ito sa mismong bakuran natin nang hindi alam ng gobyerno na sya namang protektor ng POGO. May secret jail na sa tokhang, may secret hospital pa sa mga Chinese. Ano-ano pa kayang mga sikreto mayroon ang gobyernong ito? (It is trivial how these sprout like mushrooms in our backyard without the government knowing about them, since it is a protector of POGO. There is a secret jail for tokhang and a secret hospital for the Chinese. What other secret does this government have?)”
Tell us about the secret drug manufacturing factory inside the New Bilibid Prison that happened right under her watch when she was Justice Secretary, the illicit funds raised from which were used to catapult her political career and her alleged love affair with her driver. Come to think of it, the script being suggested by De Lima is taken from her own life story, particularly, in the chapter on how she ended up in a detention cell.
In a statement made by Fontana Development Corporation, it said that it has “absolutely no involvement or participation in the alleged illegal operation, and does not and will never condone any illegal activities within our leased property.”
It further stated that “all of Fontana casino and junket operations in its own properties have long been suspended in compliance with the government-mandated community quarantine. Fontana has zero operations at present, and we were going to resume our casino operations after the lifting of the community quarantine.”
As to the allegation that what was discovered was a “secret hospital,” it was clarified that the residential villa where the purported hospital was found is under the control of Shidaikeji Technology Corporation, which explained that it used the villa to attend to their employees’ own needs, similar to any company clinic. It was not operating as a COVID-19 clinic, there being no positive COVID-19 case, person under investigation or person under monitoring in Fontana.
Thus, not a single NOGO is operating in Clark since gaming has discontinued in line with government’s orders.
To recall, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on 6 May, issued guidelines on the resumption of Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) service providers and required the payment of outstanding taxes before a permit may be issued to them. However, BIR Deputy Commissioner and POGO Task Force head Arnel Guballa, in an interview last Thursday, said POGO service providers are “still in the process of complying with its requirements, including payments.” It follows that not all POGO service providers should operate just yet.
In a radio interview last Saturday, presidential spokesman Atty. Harry Roque seconded Guballa and said that POGO “cannot open because they have unpaid taxes with the BIR, so we can’t get anything from them.”
NOGO are a menace to the fledging gaming industry in the Philippines, which realized a spike in government collections thanks to the significant contributions of legitimate POGO service providers. It is unfair for De Lima to insinuate that the Philippine government tolerates NOGO and “secret hospitals.” She must instead laud the authorities for catching these illegal operators and putting a stop to these criminalities.
Accredited Service Providers of PAGCOR (ASPAP) spokesman Atty. Margarita Gutierrez, in a statement, said, “Partnership between the public and private sector is most crucial at this time, and ASPAP is not stepping back on this challenge. Whether it is free mass testing or revenue generation to boost the COVID-19 response programs, our members will be there united with the nation towards economic recovery.”
ASPAP is the group of compliant POGO service providers in the Philippines.
Word of advice to Senator De Lima: Continue your handwritten statements that may be therapeutic in your end, but avoid making comments on illicit activities.
In the same statement, De Lima said, “Kung hindi pa ‘yan galawang sindikato, ewan ko na kung ano pa (If this is not the moves of a syndicate, then I do not know what is).” Precisely. It takes one to know one.