Duterte rejects China’s call to shutdown POGOs: ‘It will lead to job losses’
Robie de Guzman • September 5, 2019 • 1131
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will continue to allow Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to do business in the country despite the call of China to ban online gambling operations.
Speaking to reporters in Malacañang on Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said banning POGOs from operating in the country will result in job losses.
China earlier called on the Philippine government to ban all online gambling operations after it suspended the issuance of new licenses for offshore gaming companies due to several grounds.
Based on China’s laws, any form of gambling by its nationals, including online gambling, gambling overseas, opening casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal.
Malacañang earlier said that online gambling was one of the topics discussed during Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Beijing.
The Palace said Xi expressed appreciation for the Philippines’ move to suspend new POGO license applications but would appreciate it more if online gambling operations will be totally banned.
Duterte said he may have listened to Xi out of courtesy but in the end, he will still be the one to decide on the matter.
“I decide that we need it. Maraming mawalaan ng hanap-buhay. Anyway, it’s government-controlled,” he said.
However, he warned online gaming operators they will be closed down if they fail to remit the right taxes.
“Bantay kayo ha, kayong mga concessionaires. Pag nagkamali kayo, hindi kayo mag-remit, isang non-remittance lang, you better close tapos mag-usap tayo,” he said.
Duterte stressed that the only reason he allowed their operation is to primarily provide employment to Filipinos.
“Wala kasi masyadong trabaho. Kung sana progressed na tayo as a country, maraming trabaho then you do not have this stupid thing…activity of allowing gambling,” he said.
“But at this time, wala talaga akong magawa. Maraming nagugutom. But umiikot naman ang… Huwag lang ninyong lokohin ang gobyerno. Huwag ninyo akong lokohin.”
Gambling is a traditional pastime in China and, despite the strict government policy, the activity has thrived for centuries.
POGOs are an important source of revenue for the Philippine government through license fees paid to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).
Aside from the employment generated by POGOs, owners of commercial buildings that house offshore gambling also earn from rental fees paid by companies.
The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada scolded China on Thursday (May 28) for imposing a new security law that they said would threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Sino-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.
British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the four countries were “deeply troubled” by the decision of China’s People’s Congress, which democracy activists in Hong Kong fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.
China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.
Raab said Britain will give greater visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong unless China suspends the proposed security laws. (Reuters)
China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.
“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.
“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.
The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’
Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.
Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.
Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.
More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)
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