POGOs turning PH into ‘laundromat’ for illegal funds – Drilon

Franklin Drilon

SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon yesterday reiterated his call for the closure of Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGOs  saying that he is worried the Philippines has become a laundromat for dirty money.

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 sa 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 today the influx of foreign cash brought to the country mostly by Chinese nationals.

The minority leader said that the country’s becoming a “labandera” of 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 POGO industry.

He cited how the Chinese government has taken a very strong position against their citizens engaging in gambling and has pushed a very strong campaign that resulted in the closure of online gaming in Cambodia.