The government will continue allowing Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to do business in the country despite China’s request to shut down the gambling operation since banning POGOs will result in job losses, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Wednesday.
The President returned over the weekend from a five-day official visit to China that included a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During a press conference with reporters in Malacañang, the President said that he may have listened to the Chinese leader out of courtesy but, in the end, he’ll be the one to decide.
“I decide that we need it. Maraming mawalaan ng hanap-buhay. Anyway, it’s government-controlled,” he said.
But he warned non-paying operators saying, “Bantay kayo ha, kayong mga concessionaires. ‘Pag nagkamali kayo, hindi kayo mag-remit, isang non-remittance lang, you better close tapos mag-usap tayo o kausapin ninyo ‘yung…” the President added.
He told POGOs not to dupe the government, stressing the reason he allowed their operations is to primarily provide jobs 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.”
China made a request to the Philippine government to prohibit online gaming operations in the country that mainly cater to Chinese citizens.
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 Corp. (Pagcor).
Aside from the employment generated by POGOs, owners of commercial buildings that house offshore gambling also earn from rental fees paid by companies. PND