Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the alleged closure of POGO firms

Let’s be clear: Hindi kailangan ng Pilipinas ang isang industriya na walang ibang hatid kundi krimen, pang-aabuso, at pambibiktima ng Pilipino, lalo na laban sa kababaihan at mga menor de edad.

Instead of advocating on behalf of Chinese-run Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) firms, PAGCOR should perform their regulatory mandate and see to it that operators of POGO firms, who have closed or are planning to close shop, will not evade their existing liabilities and obligations under our laws.

The sudden closure of these POGOS should not allow them to escape accountability and justice. Huwag natin payagan na pagkatapos nila kumita ng bilyon-bilyon dito sa ating bansa sa loob ng ilang taon, ay biglang tatakbuhan na lang ng mga POGO ang utang nilang buwis na tinatayang aabot sa Php70 billion. POGO firms whose management and workers are involved in kidnapping, human trafficking, prostitution of women and children, unfair labor practice and other criminal activities should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  

Government too, should prioritize assistance to the around 30,000 Filipinos whose livelihood will be displaced by the sudden departure of their POGO employers. With unemployment among Filipinos already at a record high, the Department of Labor and Employment should help these workers immediately find new jobs, businesses or other sources of income.

The few billion pesos they claim POGOs have brought into our economy are not enough to justify the abuse of Filipino women and children, the corruption of our border officials, and the rampant criminality they have brought to our streets. Ngayong may krisis, unahin natin ang kapakanan ng ating kababayan, hindi ang kita ng mga dayuhan.

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