Ever since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in August of 2019, the Chinese President has pushed for online gambling reform in the Philippines. Xi asked President Duterte to suspend the PAGCOR Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator’s (POGO) licenses that he claims targets, Chinese bettors.
After the meeting, President Duterte told media sources that POGO’s helped fuel the local economy but offered a stern warning to illegal operators. Duterte kept his promise, and since that day, POGO’s have continued to operate normally.
Recently President Duterte told the media that the accusations against POGO operators have no solid proof to back them up, and that POGO licenses are here to stay. He went on to insist that the offshore license holders are not a problem, and he will not be restricting POGO licenses anytime soon.
POGO licenses have fueled an economic boom in the Philippines, but reports have blamed illegal Chinese workers who have moved to the Philippines to work in the industry of a wide variety of crimes, including kidnappings and sex trafficking. These accusations have sparked fear in the minds of many Philippine residents and tourists to the area, but the President’s actions insinuate that there is no proof to back these claims.
Several lawmakers have recently spoken on the subject wanting the President to investigate further and to shutdown the POGO operators saying that the tax revenue does not justify the crimes being committed. Senator Frank Drilon, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Representative Robert Ace Barbers have all voiced their concerns over the past couple of weeks.
Representative Barbers says that the influx of Chinese nationals moving to the Philippines should be seen as a threat to national security and that some of them could be using the POGO license as a ruse to spy on the Philippines.
The Chinese Embassy is not buying the hype and says that the crimes committed by Chinese nationals are minor and are being inflated by social media attention.