Gordon reveals he was offered P25-M bribe to stop POGO money laundering probe

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 10, 2020   •   689

Senator Richard Gordon revealed Tuesday (March 10) that someone attempted to bribe him with P25 million so he would drop the investigation on the alleged money laundering through the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).

Gordon, who is also the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said a friend told him that a certain Rodriguez group allegedly offered a donation worth P5 million to the Philippine Red Cross.

They also offered to give the senator P20 million just to stop the public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the alleged money laundering through POGO.

“Sabi ko, hindi ko ginagawa iyan, (I told them I don’t do that)” Gordon said during an interview with reporters. “I am chagrined. Ang lalakas ng loob ng mga ito na akala nila lahat kaya nilang bilhin (They are very confident to think that they can buy everything).”

The senator also said the bribery attempt only showed that the said family may have been involved in illegal activities.

Gordon added that bulks of money continue to enter the country. He reported that USD 500 million reportedly entered the country on Tuesday (March 10).

Meanwhile, Gordon reiterated they will continue the investigation on the money laundering allegations on Thursday (March 12).—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Duterte rejects calls to shut down POGOs operations for now

Robie de Guzman   •   March 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte stood by his decision not to shut down Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) despite calls from lawmakers following the alleged influx of dirty money into the country through the online gambling industry.

On Tuesday, Duterte said that POGO operations are clean and generate huge revenues for the government.

“I will assure you under my oath of office as President of this Republic, as elected by you, ‘yang POGO na ‘yan, in so far kami dito, malinis ‘yan,” he said in a speech during an assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Pasay City.

Duterte made the statement following allegations that POGO’s operations in the country have spawned irregularities and increase in crime rates involving its workers, particularly Chinese nationals.

Some immigration officers were also accused of receiving pay-offs to facilitate the entry of fugitives and offshore gaming operations workers from China.

The latest controversy linking the offshore gaming hub was the alleged inflow of dirty money from abroad, which land in casinos and banks in the country. Some senators have alleged that this has become possible due to the proliferation of POGOs in the country.

Duterte, however, said everything that the government earns from POGOs goes to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and that the industry has generated thousands of local jobs for Filipinos.

“Laro ‘yan para lang sa kabila. But it employs something like 20,000 dito sa Maynila. Dito lang ‘yang POGO eh. Walang pera diyan. Diretso sa PAGCOR ‘yan,” he added.

The chief executive also insisted that there is no corruption in its operations, as it is monitored by the PAGCOR.

He also said the government gets P2 billion worth of revenues from the industry each month which can be used to fund government infrastructure projects and other programs. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Gordon on money laundering issue: ‘Mr. President, you are being misled by your people’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 10, 2020

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Senator Richard Gordon believes that President Rodrigo Duterte is being “misled by his own people” regarding the alleged money laundering in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Corporation (POGO).

“Mr. President, you are being misled by your people. You better check. You’re a lawyer as well, most respectfully,” he said.

On Monday evening (March 9), Duterte said he was not convinced with the money laundering allegations against POGO operations in the country.

“I wish the President wouldn’t make remarks like that especially since a co-equal branch of government is investigating a very, very serious situation where hundreds of millions of dollars are coming into our country,” Gordon said.

According to Gordon, the President should listen to the Senate because of the clear evidence collected from their investigations.

During the Senate hearing last week, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) revealed that P14 billion out of the P54 billion worth of POGO transactions from 2017 to 2019 were linked to “suspicious activities.” —AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senate panel to probe influx of foreign cash to PH on Thursday

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, led by Senator Richard Gordon, is set to investigate on Thursday, March 5, the reported influx of billions of pesos-worth of foreign cash brought into the country by alleged organized syndicates.

Gordon, in a Senate session on Wednesday, revealed that from September 2019 to February 2020, $447 million or equivalent to P22.7 billion were brought into the country based on the report of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The sums of cash were allegedly carried by 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arriving in the Philippines from Hong Kong and Singapore.

Gordon said the large sums of cash were declared as investment and gambling funds.

The BOC earlier said that couriers of the money are able to escape detection because they are escorted by police, military or airport officials, based on their monitoring.

“Everyday, may pumapasok. Every other day, ‘yung taong nagpasok, meron na naman siya, three days later. So, talagang masusi ang trabaho,” Gordon said.

Under Philippine laws, any person is required to declare any amount exceeding $10,000 or its equivalent to other foreign currency being brought into or out of the country.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier ordered the BOC to coordinate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate the matter.

The senator said Thursday’s hearing seeks to probe whether the influx of foreign cash into the country is linked to the operation of offshore gaming firms in the country which mostly employ Chinese nationals.

He added that Blue Ribbon panel also wants to know if these sums of money are being used in any illegal trade or activities.

Gordon said an invitation to attend the hearing has already been sent to officials from the AMLC, DOF, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Immigration. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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