PAGCOR probes into possible negligence of Resorts World Manila in June 2 attack

UNTV News   •   June 6, 2017   •   3410

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) will look into whether there has been negligence on the part of the management of Resorts World Manila regarding the attack last Friday on its casino that left 38 people dead, including the gunman.

The move is part of the investigation of PAGCOR as a regulatory body.

The probe aims to determine the possible negligence on the part of the management of the hotel-casino complex.

PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo said, “We are looking into, one — their security systems, if there is leniency or laxity or negligence. And on the fire, managing the fire situation.”

If the gaming facility will be proven to have committed negligence, PAGCOR can suspend its license to operate casinos across the country.

Aside from security and operation, the agency is also implementing measures against gambling addiction.

PAGCOR has already prohibited about 400 individuals from entering gaming facilities.

“Sometimes, they are the ones who have themselves banned. We also ban them,” PAGCOR Chairman Andrea Domingo added.

The Department of Tourism (DOT), meanwhile, says the incident at Resorts World should serve as a warning to other establishments.

“When you have multi-facility like that it is incumbent for us to be able to review it, because people just love to visit facilities like that,” DOT USec.  Frederick Alegre said. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News and Rescue

DOT mandates maximum of double occupancy for hotels under ‘new normal’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 21, 2020

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has mandated hotels and other tourism-related accommodations to only have a maximum of double occupancy as part of the ‘new normal’.

According to DOT Usec. Arturo Boncato, they will limit the occupancy or capacity of hotel accommodations up to two persons per room. This also includes limiting the number of customers in restaurants.

“DOT will be mandating a maximum of double occupancy for all of the hotels. And for restaurants starting with 50% occupancy in terms of operations for in-dining,” he said.

The Tourism Department said they will release the set of policies to be implemented once the operation of tourism-related establishments resume under the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Other safety measures include regular sanitation and disinfection, supply of sanitation/disinfecting provisions for workers; regular inspection of health and safety standards being implemented. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Senate probe into PAGCOR’s alleged lobby for POGO’s quarantine exception sought

Robie de Guzman   •   May 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros are calling on their fellow lawmakers to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the alleged lobbying of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to exclude Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the COVID-19 quarantine.

In a joint statement, Pangilinan and Hontiveros said they have recently filed Senate Resolution 396 after PAGCOR allowed POGOs to resume partial operations, subject to strict conditions, purportedly to boost government revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senators said that the gaming regulator’s “actuations in lobbying for an exception in favor of the POGO industry threaten to unduly put the health and well-being of the Filipino people at risk by undermining the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).”

“Even going by the official estimate, allowing more than 50,000 workers in the online gambling industry to return to work represents a substantial exception to the ECQ rules,” they said.

PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo earlier argued that licensed POGOs should be allowed to resume operations as these are part of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector.

BPOs have been allowed to operate amid the quarantine period.

Domingo earlier assured that before POGOs were allowed to resume partial operations, they would have to meet safety and health requirements.

But Pangilinan and Hontiveros both expressed apprehension that the partial reopening of POGO operations could “reverse the efforts put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19”as there is no assurance that POGOS will follow the Department of Health’s guidelines on physical distancing, wearing of masks, and frequent handwashing and sanitation.”

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) have also rejected that POGOs are part of the BPO industry, citing four key differences:

  • BPO companies are registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments, while POGOs are registered with PAGCOR,
  • the offshoring nature of POGOs are allegedly because they are unable to practice their betting or gambling functions in their respective shores,
  • IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills, and
  • BPOs come to the Philippines to leverage off the country’s human capital, like strong English and technical skills, customer service orientation, malasakit, and ability to adapt to foreign cultures. On the other hand, majority of POGO staffing comes from foreign labor brought into the country to support their operations.

According to IBPAP, POGOs are not part of the annual IT-BPO Headcount and Revenue report, which in 2019 ended with 1.3 million direct employees and $26.3 billion in revenues, the senators said.

PAGCOR also argued that revenues from POGO operations can be a significant source of funds for the government’s COVID-19 response.

It also said that operators are ordered to pay all tax obligations up to March 2020 before they will be allowed to resume operations and only registered workers cleared in COVID-19 rapid tests to report back to work.

But Hontiveros and Pangilinan pointed out that during a Senate hearing in February 2020,

the Bureau of Internal Revenue revealed that POGOs failed to pay the government an estimated P50 billion in withholding and franchise taxes in 2019.

The senators said the uncollected taxes of POGOs could be a source of additional government funds for COVID-19 response.

“[But these] taxes need to be collected regardless of the industry’s status of operations during the community quarantine,” they said.

The senators also pointed out that the resumption of POGO operations will have minimal impact on the country’s economy.

They cited records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) showing that the industry only accounts for 0.04% of the domestic economy.

Earlier this week, a group of House lawmakers filed a bill seeking to have POGOs declared illegal by prohibiting the operations of any offshore gaming by any means or device within Philippine territory.

Over 1,000 stranded tourists across the Philippines return home

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 4, 2020

Over 1,000 stranded tourists in various destinations in the country have returned home, according to the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in a statement said that the groups arrived from various local airports on seven sweeper flights arranged by the DOT.

“A total of 1,049 distressed travelers reached Manila in succeeding schedules. On Friday, 180 tourists arrived from Puerto Princesa, 60 from El Nido and 144 from Boracay,” the DOT said in a statement.

DOT-NCR Regional Director Woodrow C. Maquiling, Jr. said the returning tourists were subjected to rapid anti-body testing at the airport. He also reported that none of them tested positive for the coronavrus disease (COVID-19).

“To date, the DOT has assisted some 22,264 foreign visitors and 2,505 local tourists stranded in the past month-and-half under ECQ,” the DOT said. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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