PHL has become a laundromat for dirty money through POGOs—Senator Drilon

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Worried that the Philippines has become a laundromat for dirty money, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reiterated his calls for the closure of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the country.

In an interview with radio stadio DzMM, Drilon expressed dismay that the Philippines is being used by organized syndicates as a “washing machine” to wash their dirty money despite the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) that has been in place since 2001 when he was Senate President.

“Ginagawa tayong labandera. Yung ating banking system, financial system in general, ay ginagawang washing machine kung saan yung maruruming pera na kung saan-saang panig ng mundo nanggaling ay dinadala dito bansa at ipapasok sa casino o bangko o kung saan man at paglabas ay malinis na,” Drilon said.

Drilon made the remarks as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday the influx of foreign cash brought to the country mostly by Chinese nationals.

The minority leader said that the country’s becoming a labanderaof dirty money has become possible because of the proliferation of POGOs in the country.

“Sa akin po, hindi ba nag-umpisa ito lahat ng magtayo ng POGOs sa ating bansa? To me, the solution is we stop overseas gaming in the country. It does not bring us any substantial benefit,” he stressed.

During the session on Tuesday, Drilon urged his colleagues to examine the matter carefully and consider expressing the sentiment of the Senate that POGO operations should be stopped.

“All of what you have exposed in this chamber, the shenanigans of what we se here, all happened because of the policy decision to allow overseas gaming operations in our country,” Drilon pointed out, referring to Gordon’s privilege speech on illicit activities connected to the operations of POGO industry.

“This is about time that we should examine this policy. We are a policy-making body. Should we continue this policy of allowing overseas gaming in the country with all the illicit activities that come with it?” Drilon emphasized.

“What is happening in our country is apparently rooted in the very presence of POGOs run by the Chinese. If there were no POGOs, all of these nefarious activities would have no purpose,” Drilon said.

He cited how the Chinese government has taken a very strong position on their citizens engaged in gambling and has taken a very strong campaign in that resulted in the closure of online gaming in Cambodia. /Stacy Ang

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