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Lawmaker asks Marcos: Ban POGOS for natl security

SEN. Ana Theresia «Risa» Hontiveros on Friday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to urgently ban Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to protect national security.

During the hearing on the proliferation of scam hubs in the Philippines, the senator expressed grave concern over the government identification (ID) cards — TIN ID, PhilHealth ID, Alien Certificate of Registration, Alien Employment Permit, and Police Clearance ID — fraudulently obtained for Chinese nationals who work in Smart Web Technology, the recently raided company in Pasay City.

«The Chinese are lucky, they do not need to fall in line to get an ID to become legal residents in the Philippines and eventually get Philippine passports.

»The question is: Do they have cohorts in the agencies of the government? Considering our current dispute in the West Philippine Sea, it is alarming that we are giving an all-access pass to our country to Chinese citizens through these POGO hubs," Hontiveros said in a mix of English and Filipino.

«The President should ban POGOs. If he really wants to defend our country from those who disrespect our sovereignty, he should include the whole industry of online gambling with those banned from entering our territory,» Hontiveros said.

In the hearing, Hontiveros also recalled how findings from previous investigations revealed that fugitives from other countries have been able to enter the country through POGO companies.

«I find it very problematic that we just give IDs, especially after learning in past hearings that the POGO workers can easily slip into the country. These IDs legitimize their status here in the Philippines.

»One of the serious problems here is if we are providing identities to fugitives from other countries. It happened before.

«Fugitives from China and Myanmar came to hide in the country,» the senator said. Hontiveros then raised the alarm over Filipino birth certificates that are being produced for Chinese citizens, which are then used to apply for Philippine passports.

«Why do these Chinese need to fake their nationalities to become Filipinos here in the country? If their only motive is to work, they can do so by applying for alien employment