Duterte rejects China’s call to shutdown POGOs: ‘It will lead to job losses’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 5, 2019   •   853

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.

Robredo’s ICAD position not a Cabinet rank – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo’s role as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD) is not a Cabinet-level position, Malacañang said.

In a message to reporters on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Robredo is not a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet and that the post she was recently given was not a Cabinet rank.

“The post she was appointed to is not a Cabinet level. The discretion to appoint her as a member of the Cabinet, in addition to her appointment as the anti-illegal drug czar lies with the President,” he said.

Early this month, Robredo accepted the task to co-lead the government’s campaign against drugs, which the Palace previously said is a Cabinet-level position.

However, Panelo earlier said that Robredo will be invited to attend Cabinet meetings if the issue to be discussed will be about the government’s war on drugs.

Robredo earlier said she will only attend Cabinet meetings if she is invited, adding that it was not specified whether her new task is a Cabinet position when she received the appointment.

Prior to Panelo’s message, Duterte said in an interview with GMA on Monday that he did not designate Robredo as part of his Cabinet.

“I have not signed an appointment designating her as a cabinet,” the president said. “You know why? Early on she was talking right and left that she would talk to this and talk to that.”

“In the Cabinet meeting, we talk about what’s happening. Eh kung marinig nya yan dyan tapos dadaldal niya sa labas?” he added.

“Unang-una, Leni hindi tayo magka-partido. Hindi ako suspetsoso pero kung may makita ka diyan para ibuhos mo sa akin o ibigay mo doon sa iba para ibuhos sa akin… ‘Yan ang problema. Kung kapartido tayo, walang problema,” he said.

Robredo earlier gave assurance she would not divulge any classified information on the government’s war on drugs.

“Iyong assurance naman, lahat ng sensitive information hindi idi-disclose,” she said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Palace: Duterte is now in the ‘green of health’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 18, 2019

Malacañang has announced that President Rodrigo Duterte is experiencing sickness due to old age and is now in the “green of health”, not pink.

On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the president, who is now 74 years old, is “not normal” when it comes to his health.

“Hindi siya normal kasi nga, ang dami niyang nararamdaman. Kumbaga, kung sinabi ko noon na (He is not normal because he has a lot of illnesses. It’s like, if I said then) he was ‘in the pink of health’, ngayon (now) I think he is now ‘in the green of health’,” he said.

However, Panelo said despite these illnesses, Duterte continues to do his duties as the chief executive.

“If you will notice, kahit na ganyan siya, may nararamdaman, iyong kaniyang schedule ganoon pa rin, hindi pa rin nagbago (Even if he is experiencing illnesses [due to old age] his schedule remain unchanged), not only does he survive but he does it well,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

China lifts almost 5-year ban on import of US poultry

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

Chickens are seen in a barn at Todd Chapman’s poultry farm in Clermont, Georgia, USA. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

BEIJING – China has lifted import restrictions on poultry products from the United States after nearly five years, according to the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture.

In January 2015, China banned the import of chicken and poultry products from the US to protect itself from bird flu that had been recorded in some areas of America in 2013 and 2014.

According to a joint statement by the two Chinese bodies, the US took active and preventive measures following the bird flu outbreak, and that no fresh cases had been reported since March 2017.

A team of Chinese experts visited the US in July 2017 on Washington’s invitation to conduct on-the-spot assessments of measures against bird flu, the statement said.

In May 2018, the two countries held consultations on the subject, and after a full assessment, China considered the bird flu epidemic in the US to be effectively under control, and poultry regulation systems were compliant with Chinese legal requirements.

The statement said that following the lifting of US import restrictions, Chinese poultry imports would expand to effectively respond to market demands.

According to US trade authorities, the end of the import ban would result in the export of poultry products worth more than $1 billion to China annually.

Moreover, China has been facing a meat shortage following an outbreak of African swine fever, which has led to the culling of millions of pigs in the country, affecting the supply of pork, a preferred food item among the Chinese. – EFE-EPA

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