Duterte rejects China’s call to shutdown POGOs: ‘It will lead to job losses’

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will continue to allow Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to do business in the country despite the call of China to ban online gambling operations.

Speaking to reporters in Malacañang on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said banning POGOs from operating in the country will result in job losses.

China earlier called on the Philippine government to ban all online gambling operations after it suspended the issuance of new licenses for offshore gaming companies due to several grounds.

Based on China’s laws, any form of gambling by its nationals, including online gambling, gambling overseas, opening casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal.

Malacañang earlier said that online gambling was one of the topics discussed during Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Beijing.

The Palace said Xi expressed appreciation for the Philippines’ move to suspend new POGO license applications but would appreciate it more if online gambling operations will be totally banned.

Duterte said he may have listened to Xi out of courtesy but in the end, he will still be the one to decide on the matter.

“I decide that we need it. Maraming mawalaan ng hanap-buhay. Anyway, it’s government-controlled,” he said.

However, he warned online gaming operators they will be closed down if they fail to remit the right taxes.

“Bantay kayo ha, kayong mga concessionaires. Pag nagkamali kayo, hindi kayo mag-remit, isang non-remittance lang, you better close tapos mag-usap tayo,” he said.

Duterte stressed that the only reason he allowed their operation is to primarily provide employment to Filipinos.

“Wala kasi masyadong trabaho. Kung sana progressed na tayo as a country, maraming trabaho then you do not have this stupid thing…activity of allowing gambling,” he said.

“But at this time, wala talaga akong magawa. Maraming nagugutom. But umiikot naman ang… Huwag lang ninyong lokohin ang gobyerno. Huwag ninyo akong lokohin.”

Gambling is a traditional pastime in China and, despite the strict government policy, the activity has thrived for centuries.

POGOs are an important source of revenue for the Philippine government through license fees paid to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

Aside from the employment generated by POGOs, owners of commercial buildings that house offshore gambling also earn from rental fees paid by companies.

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