President Rodrigo Roa Duterte fended off accusations against the operations of Chinese online casinos stressing that such operations have helped the Philippines financially.
Some lawmakers raised suspicion about billions worth of transactions involving Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which they said, may have been used for drug trafficking, fraud and e-commerce law violations.
In a press conference in Malacañang on Monday, President Duterte said it’s natural for POGOs to do transactions involving large sums of money for their gambling business.
“We are not justifying it. We are just saying that it is allowed because we need the funds. But ‘yung speculation diyan sa mga senador na ginagamit ng laundering, well, meron kaming ano sa ano. We have a listing of the — itong mga deposito nila,” he said.
“There is a report of money laundering. Pero doon sa bangko mismo wala. Money laundering — ano mang ibayad mo? You are engaged in the business. You deposit money, you withdraw money. Tumatakbo ‘yan eh. May manalo kasi, may matalo.”
And if operators want the payment to emanate from the Philippines, Filipino authorities can do nothing about it, he said.
POGOs have been an important source of revenue for the government, raking in around P2 billion a month, according to the President.
“Ang tanging ano ko lang diyan is the money. Sayang eh, makatulong sa bayan. Kagaya ngayon itong mga ganito. So P2 billion, answered kaagad. So we have the money,” he said.
The President said Cabinet officials have stayed away from gambling operations except for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), a casino operator and regulator.
Also, if the Chinese Embassy facilitates the quick entry of bonafide POGO workers, there is not much intervention on the part of the government, he added. PND