Ordinance bans POGO in Bulacan

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By Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Khyrus Joser Santos, Althea Barranta and John Bertrand Faigao

CITY OF MALOLOS – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Thursday passed a provincial ordinance that bans Philippine Offshore Gaming Oeprations (POGO) in the whole province of Bulacan. 

Bulacan Capitol Building. Photo by: Khyrus Joser C. Santos

In a regular session, Vice Governor and presiding officer Alexis Castro and the whole members of the SP unanimously approved at its third and final reading Provincial Ordianance No. 012-2024, “BAWAL ANG POGO SA BULACAN” ORDINANCE, “An ordinance Prohibiting Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) and other similar activities within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Bulacan” which totally prohibits and bans POGO and orher similar operations in the Bulacan province. 

Castro himself proposed the ordinance “Disallowing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) Within the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Province of Bulacan” parallel with earlier Executive Order (EO) No.19  Series of 2024 of Gov. Daniel Fernando restricting the establishment of POGO in any of the 20 towns and four cities in the province. 

According to the vice governor, Bulacan is the “first province” to make such an ordinance, following the city of Pasig and Valenzuela passing similar ordinances. “Sa provincial level, tayo ang unang probinsiya na nagbaba ng POGO sa ating lalawigan,” he states, before lowering the gavel to approve the ordinance.

The motion was welcomed with applause from the board members present, the Vice Governor, and the public who watched the proceedings.

Castro thanked fellow members of the SP, Board Members Allan Andan and Romina Fermin of the 1st District, Atty. Erlene Luz dela Cruz and Lee Edward Nicolas of the 2nd District, Romeo Castro Jr. and Raul Mariano of the 3rd District, Enrique delos Santos Jr. and Allen Dale Baluyutof the 4th District, Richard Roque and Cezar Mendoza of the 5thDistrict, Renato de Guzman Jr. and Arthur Legaspi of the 6thDistrict, and Casey Tyrone Howard, federation chair of the Sangguniang Kabataan League in the province. 

On Wednesday, Castro led the committee of the whole which he chairs in hearing the said resolution he filed banning all possible establishments and operations of POGO in Bulacan. 

As chairman of the committee of the whole, Castro supports the governor in his belief that after the dismantling of the POGOs in Tarlac and in Pampanga, it is a possibility that POGOs will shift locations and Bulacan could be one of the targeted areas. 

As of today, however, there is no POGO yet existing and operating in the province based on the report of Bulacan Police Director Col. Relly Arnedo. 

“Hihintayin pa ba nating magkaroon,” (Are we going to wait for this to exist), the vice governor said. 

All the chiefs of police of the 20 towns and four cities together with all the mayors and their respective representatives, officials of the National Bureau of Investigation, (NBI) in Bulacan, other local officials and concerned individuals attended the committee hearing. 

Based on the EO, Fernando ordered all the mayors, councilors and barangay officials to check all the warehouses, buildings, apartments in their respective localities and areas if there is a POGO that is operating. 

“Baka may nakakalusot, baka may warehouse diyan, apartment, building,” (There could be one that sneaks operation, a warehouse, apartment, building), the vice governor told the media after the hearing. 

“What good can we get from these POGOs. There are social issues, human trafficking, torture, money laundering, kidnapping, prostitution, different crimes in POGOs. We would not let these things happen in Bulacan as these are all crimes brought by POGO. We will not gain anything out of this POGO. Even the jobs are not given to locals but to foreigners,” Castro said. 

An establishment that was reported being constructed for an alleged POGO operation in one of the towns in the third district but has yet to be issued a permit and license by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation will be covered with this ban on POGO ordinance once it is passed already, the vice governor added.   

“Let this be a message also to everyone that we of Gov. Fernando are not protectors of POGO,” Castro also said.  

Arnedo said however that they will continue to be on the watch on POGO in Bulacan.  

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