Senator Gatchalian proposes ban on POGOs due to rising crime

Senator Gatchalian proposes ban on POGOs due to rising crime

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Senator Gatchalian proposes ban on POGOs due to rising crime

Because of the rise in illegal activity linked to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian proposed a bill to outlaw them.

Senate Bill No. 2689 seeks to repeal the tax advantages for offshore gambling that were put in place by a legislation that was signed into law in September 2021 by the previous president Rodrigo Duterte.

Gatchalian said in a statement:

“The main goal is to outlaw and prohibit offshore gaming operations in the country. While the POGO industry has brought in revenue and jobs, the country has grappled with a surge in POGO-related crimes, raising concerns about the overall impact on the industry.”

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means’ head, Gatchalian, brought attention to a number of incidents involving human trafficking and internet fraud via POGOs. Among these incidents is the police raid that occurred in May of last year in the Clark Freeport Zone, during which around 1,000 foreigners and 100 Filipinos were reportedly ‘rescued’. In Las Piñas, there was another raid when approximately 2,700 people were suspected of being trafficked. In addition, a POGO operation’s “torture chamber,” an aquarium-style viewing room, and massage parlors allegedly utilized for prostitution were discovered during a raid done in Pasay City in October.

Gatchalian stated:

“Various atrocities attributed to the industry have generated public outcry for a ban on the industry, further intensified by economic costs brought by such operations. Beyond the financial impact, the rise in human trafficking and online scams linked to POGOs is a moral failing we must address.”

Meanwhile, Philippine Senate President Francis Escudero is considering a broader ban on all types of gambling instead of focusing exclusively on POGOs. Escudero indicated he prefers to ban everything to get rid of gambling in the Philippines, noting linked challenges such as human trafficking, money laundering, and cyber fraud.

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