Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva has introduced a bill to ban all forms of online gambling in the country. The move comes as recent issues with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) have sparked renewed interest in stricter regulation., following a series of alleged kidnappings at their premises. Gaming regulator PAGCOR ordered the closure of two POGOs and revoked the license of one, after more than 140 foreign workers were rescued over the weekend.
Villanueva’s Senate Bill 1281, the “anti-gambling law”, aims to penalize people who engage in online gambling with a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to PHP 500,000 ($8,711).
Villanueva said so bill aims to prevent “further deterioration of the morals and valuesencourage people to work instead of relying on a game of chance, stop addiction and save lives”, as reported ABS-CBN News.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III expressed support for banning POGO operations in the country, as he encouraged the majority blocs in the Senate and House to unite and prioritize the approval of this measure. “Given what we now see as many adverse effects, Congress has a moral duty to ban POGOs. We must act now,” he said.
“It will be a bipartisan measure. We cannot afford to dither on banning POGOs while moral fiber and the peace and order of the nation are at stake. You are the majority. Get together. If you say “stop POGO”, we will support you,” added Pimentel.
He also stated that Malacañang should also heed the call to ban POGO in the Philippines. “The continued operation of POGOs in the country is dangerous. It is akin to harboring potential criminals and gangsters who can eventually cause massive disruption of peace and order in the country, as we are starting to see now with the wave of kidnappings and other violent activities “, noted Pimentel, as reported by the quoted source.
Authorities recently rescued 70 foreigners who were allegedly detained at a POGO site in Rizal. About Another 40 POGO workers who may have been victims of human trafficking were also rescued in Angeles City, Pampanga police said.
Waiting, Senator Grace Poe has called for a “thorough investigation into the social costs of POGOs” in the country to assess whether the country can still host its operations. Poe announced that she “would be file a resolution on this immediately so that the chamber and the public can together explore his position on POGOs once and for all.”
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is should submit a report to the plenary regarding the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee’s investigation of POGO’s operations. Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he would wait for Dela Rosa’s report first before making a final decision.