Hearing andReprimanding

The recent two hearings that were conducted at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Pampanga on the issue of the Porac Mega POGO had uncovered oversight lapses that obviously point to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) being the sole government agency tasked to issue permits and to monitor operations of these online gaming licensees.

PAGCOR representatives has been monitoring the operations of Lucky South 99 in Pulung Maba, Porac, Pampanga since it started in 2019 as a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm. In fact, a certain Atty. Joseph Lobo, of the PAGCOR Legal Department, noted the government agency collected $150,000 monthly from the Lucky South 99 from Day One.

PAGCOR representatives were diligently monitoring the operations of Lucky South 99 and by all means they saw the hundreds of Chinese nationals working in the vicinity, which according to them are in the area which is not part of the 3-hectare area which was given permit to operate as a BPO and then into a full-blown POGO hub after two years.

Nevertheless, in both SP hearings, the absence of parliamentary procedures had been thrown into the dustbin of neglect, as two presiding officers, had engaged in a battery of questioning on invited resource speakers without giving them ample time to explain.

In both instances, the hearings turned into a sort of reprimanding instead of gathering evidences and making recommendations on what to do next.

On the second hearing, Vie Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda made some sensible observations. VG Pineda has cited the insufficient coordination and communication between PAGCOR and local government units (LGUs), and other relevant agencies. PAGCOR was already there in Porac from Day One, just like it had been there at the Baofu Compound, in Bamban, Tarlac.

But did the Senate probe PAGCOR or invite its top officials during the investigation that brought Bamban Mayor Alice Guo into the llimelight? No.

Perhaps, it is about time for the Senate to invite PAGCOR being the only government agency allowed to issue permits to POGOs which are now called Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs). By the way, when PAGCOR decided to renamed POGO into IGL, the POGO permit of Lucky South 99 had been effectively terminated on October 2023. Porac LGU also did not issue the Business Permit for Lucky South 99.

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