De Lima seeks fresh Senate probe on POGOs

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 17 2020 02:55 PM

De Lima seeks fresh Senate probe on POGOs 1
The Senate investigates Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators on March 5, 2020. Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima sought a new inquiry citing an "increasing frequency" of illegal activities linked to the sector. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday sought to investigate what she called an "increasing frequency" of illegal activities linked to Chinese-run offshore gaming firms in the Philippines.

Senate Resolution No. 440 sought to determine if "there is sufficient basis" to allow the continued operation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), De Lima said in a statement.

"The current administration’s kid-glove approach against POGO-related criminality has emboldened these POGOs to continue its activities unimpeded within the Philippines, with little to no regard for our laws nor our standards for public health and safety," the detained senator said.

Previous Senate inquiries found that POGOs failed to pay some P50 billion in taxes, while some of its employees have been sharing tax identification numbers to evade payment.

Some Chinese workers also bribed Immigration officials to help them work in the Philippines without proper documents, a separate Senate probe showed.

Despite the Senate's findings on POGO-linked illegal activities, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) allowed the firms to resume operations during the coronavirus lockdown.

In March, several senators have agreed to craft a measure that would declare as "illegal" POGO operations in the Philippines, but they have yet to tackle it in detail.