DOJ to Meet with Chinese Embassy Over Canceled POGO Workers

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Franco Luna – Philstar.fr

September 21, 2022 | 12:07

Manila, Philippines (Updated 3:50 p.m.) – Measures to restrict Philippine offshore gambling operators continue, with the Justice Department expected to meet with Chinese Embassy officials in the coming days to propose a resolution on POGOs recently canceled by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation amid the latest wave of kidnappings linked to the sector.

In a text message to reporters, Assistant Justice Secretary Mico Clavano, spokesman for the department, said Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla will meet with the Chinese Ambassador on Thursday afternoon to discuss the canceled POGO companies listed. by Pagcor. This is the first time the Philippine government has met with its Chinese counterparts on the issue.

“There must be a coordinated effort between the two countries to bring them back to China given that they no longer have a reason to stay here in the Philippines,” he said.

Clavano added that, as it stands, the department has registered some 175 canceled POGO companies, good for about 40,000 Chinese nationals to be repatriated.

Senate hearing

Earlier Tuesday, the Office of Immigration told the Senate Finance Committee that it was seeing an increase in the number of POGO workers with expired visas being transferred to other companies. Other POGO workers were also entering the country on only tourist visas issued by the consulate, Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.

The Philippine National Police said as of September 7, it had recorded 27 kidnapping cases so far this year, 20 of which were linked to POGO. Last week, anti-kidnapping agents rescued 43 foreign workers found without ID or papers, making them illegal aliens.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the country could go ahead without POGO given its significant drop in revenue generation, pointing out that POGOs had already been discontinued in countries like China and Cambodia. .

At the Development Budget Coordinating Committee briefing in the Senate, he said total industry revenue fell to a meager 3.9 billion pesos in 2021 from its previous peak of 7 .2 billion pesos from the previous year.

“It also poses a reputational risk, because people will ask why are they going to the Philippines? Maybe because we are cowards, we are not strict on our rules, so there is a reputational risk,” a- he then declared.

In Congress, lawmakers also continue to signal support for possible moves to ban POGOs altogether. As things stand, the senses. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ramon Bong Revilla, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito and Ronald dela Rosa have called for either tighter regulations on POGOs or a total ban.

“The nature of the Internet, including other applications such as the Dark Net, allows transactions to occur almost instantaneously and anonymously, allowing the criminal launderer to avoid detection. The online game operated by POGOs may even be worse than traditional casino gaming operations,” Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao Del Norte) also said in a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday.

“I had long argued that prior to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in March 2020, there were serious effects POGOs’ online gaming operations had on our war on money laundering, crime, corruption and illegal drugs.”

Ambassador: China ready to step up law enforcement cooperation

In a separate statement later Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said Ambassador Huang Xilian “exchanged views” with Remulla on “intensifying law enforcement cooperation between China and the Philippines and the Joint Suppression of POGO-Related Crimes in their communication”.

Huang said the Chinese government firmly opposes it and is taking tough measures to curb gambling. He also reiterated China’s laws and regulations, which prohibit gambling in any form by Chinese citizens.

“Crimes induced by and associated with online gambling harm not only the interests of China and Sino-Philippine relations, but also the interests of the Philippines. The Chinese government protects the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens against ‘foreigner according to the law anywhere and at any time,’ the statement read.

“The Chinese side is ready to strengthen law enforcement cooperation with the Philippine side to well protect the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines. The Chinese side invites the Philippine side to take strong measures to crack down on POGO-related crimes, and address its root cause in order to tackle social ills in a radical way.” — with reporting by Kaycee Valmonte and Kristine Joy Patag

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