MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he would allow online gambling to resume if correct taxes are paid and operations are moved away from schools and churches.
Duterte also renewed his criticism against PhilWeb Corp. owner Roberto Ongpin as an “oligarch” who must be stopped. The gaming café operator suspended operations earlier this month after regulators refused to renew its license.
“Ibabalik ko [I will restore] yung online, provided taxes are correctly collected and they are situated or placed in the districts where gambling is allowed, which means to say not within the church distance, schools, papayag ako [I will allow it],” Duterte told reporters.
“Itong online, galit ako kasi nag-sprout everywhere [This online, I am angry because it sprouted everywhere]… Kaya ako nagalit kasi pati yung mga bata naglalaro na [I got angry because even the children were playing],” he said.
Duterte’s attack prompted Ongpin to resign as PhilWeb chairman. The tycoon then offered to donate almost his entire stake 53.76-percent stake in the company to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to avoid laying off his employees but was rebuffed.
Earlier Wednesday, PhilWeb proposed setting up a text lottery to replace its gaming café business.
Also on Wednesday, Duterte said he planned to use Pagcor’s annual earnings of P30 billion to P35 billion to provide free medicine to the poor.
Government-run drug stores, called “Botika ng Bayan,” will be set up in poor communities, he said.