Villanueva on DOF, NEDA call to permanently ban POGOs: It’s about time!

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Senator Joel Villanueva

Senator Joel Villanueva lauds the Department of Finance (DOF) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for recommending the permanent ban of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country.

“It’s about time! We thank our former colleague in the Senate and now Finance Chief Secretary Ralph Recto and NEDA Chief Arsenio Balisacan for joining our cause in calling for the permanent ban of POGOs,” Villanueva said.

According to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, only P10.321 billion was collected from POGOs in 2023, which is only less than half of the P24 billion revenue projection of PAGCOR.

Villanueva added that the stance of economic managers should be discussed in the next Cabinet meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

The senator also praised the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for their plan to assist the 22,000 POGO workers who will be displaced due to the ban in finding new employment opportunities.

“For our part, we have been pushing for the laws and policies which will not only ban POGOs but all forms of online gambling,” he said.

Villanueva is calling on his colleagues in the Senate to prioritize Senate Bill No. 1281 which seeks to ban all forms of online gambling in the country.

Villanueva has been opposed to POGOs since his election to the Senate in 2016.

“Pagkaupo palang po natin sa Senado, isa na po sa tinutukan natin ang pagpapaalis ng mga POGO sa bansa. Mula noon, hanggang ngayon, naninindigan po tayong walang magandang benepisyo ang mga ito,” Villanueva said.

As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor in the 17th and 18th Congresses, Villanueva led an inquiry into the presence of 1,500 illegal POGO workers in Clark, Pampanga.

His investigation also exposed the illegal activities of Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who accepted bribes for the release of arrested Chinese workers, leading to their dismissal.

“Wala pong katumbas na salapi ang talamak na krimen na kaakibat sa operasyon ng POGO. Utang po natin sa taumbayan bilang kanilang mga lingkod bayan na unahin ang kanilang kapakanan at kaligtasan sa kahit anong kapahamakan,” Villanueva said. 

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