Senate probers to seek Pagcor report on exec who coddled POGOs | Butch Fernandez (2024)

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  • Butch Fernandez
  • July 1, 2024
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  • Senate probers to seek Pagcor report on exec who coddled POGOs | Butch Fernandez (1)

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  • Senate probers to seek Pagcor report on exec who coddled POGOs | Butch Fernandez (9)

SENATE probers are keen to invite gaming regulators for further details on the weekend revelation by Philippine Amusem*nt and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco that a former Cabinet official tried to facilitate the grant of gaming licenses to some of the illegal Pogos recently raided and found engaged in illegal activities.

While saying “I have no idea” on who Tengco could be referring to, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said “we will ask Pagcor for a copy of their investigation report” since the Senate tricommittee probing the links between some Pogos and organized crime is still ongoing.

Pogos, for Philippine Online Gaming Operators, have since been renamed “Internet Gaming Licensees” or IGLs when the new Pagcor administration took over and weeded out hundreds of dubious Pogos even while increasing government revenue from the fewer number of entities.

Guesting at the weekend at DWIZ’s “Usapang Senado,” Gatchalian said besides asking for a copy of a report, the Senate panels will call Pagcor officials if the “Pagcor investigation has a good paper trail.”

The senator, one of those actively pursuing the investigation by the Senate, was sought for reaction to a revelation on Saturday by Tengco on the former Cabinet official’s role.

Tengco said those investigating the suspicious activities of former Pogo licensees must likewise look into the role of former officials and their conduits in the grant of licenses to Pogo applicants with dubious backgrounds.

The Pagcor chief said he will reveal at the proper forum the identity of the former Cabinet member who had been lobbying for the illegal Pogos, as well as the circ*mstances that led to the proliferation of illegal and criminal offshore gaming operations.

“As a regulator, it is our mandate to ensure that only those with valid licenses are allowed to operate all forms of gambling and gaming activities, whether these are land-based casinos or online platforms,” Tengco said.

“It is in the interest of the government to crack the whip against illegal operators, including the so-called offshore gaming operators or Pogos and their backers, because the criminal activities associated with their illegal operations pose serious threats to our people,” he said.

Tengco stressed that the current administration has been doing its part to weed out illegal operators, resulting in the significant decrease in the number of licensees from 298 during the previous administration to only 43 licensees now.

“What we need to question, in the first place, was how those 298 Pogo licensees were able to secure their licensees in the past because clearly, during our cleansing process, we found most of them to be ineligible and outright suspicious,” Tengco said.

“We are also ready to reveal the roles of other controversial individuals behind these criminal Pogo enterprises,” Tengco added.

Earlier, the Marcos-era Pagcor chief had caused the filing of charges against a company that his predecessor had engaged to be a third-party auditor to help government better track the gross gaming revenues of entities overseen by Pagcor. Former officials of the gaming regulator were also charged for allowing the P6-billion contract to proceed even though the third-party auditor was patently disqualified and was found to have forged a bank certification to attest to its financial capacity for such a big contract.

Butch Fernandez

Butch Fernandez is BusinessMirror’s senior political reporter based at the Senate. He has covered Malacañang (3 presidencies), the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, local governments and defense since 1984.

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