Senators press banning of POGOs
SENATE majority leader Joel Villanueva yesterday pressed President Marcos Jr. to order the immediate banning of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country following a recent raid of an unlicensed gaming hub in Pasay City that was allegedly engaged in sex trafficking.
“It baffles me that POGOs with cancelled licenses are still operating. The reality is that there is a high possibility that this is not an isolated case. This exactly the reason why we are pushing for the total ban of POGOs in the country,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva was referring to the raid last Friday made by an inter-agency team led by the Department of Justice on an internet gaming license (IGL) center in Pasay City for alleged human trafficking where 731 Filipino and foreign workers of Smart Web technology Corporation were detained and held.
The raid was conducted on the strength of a search warrant issued by a local court for alleged violation of RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Person Act, but the operatives discovered that the firm was engaged in sex trafficking.
The raiding team discovered an alleged prostitution den with an “aquarium” where customers can view the women whom they want to hire as sex partners. Seven Filipinas were rescued from the aquarium.
Villanueva said the proliferation of the illegal POGO operations should compel the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to “ramp up and do a better job of shutting down POGO operations in the country.”
“As we have consistently emphasized, the social costs associated with gambling, especially POGOs, far outweigh their economic benefits,” he added.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, in a statement released Sunday night, said there is a need for the President to immediately ban POGOs “in the wake of a shocking revelation exposing a POGO hub’s involvement in prostitution.”
“This is probably the worst that POGOs have ever been. It’s profoundly disturbing. What we’re witnessing here is essentially a self-contained hub for sexual exploitation and slavery… This incident provides stark confirmation of the concerns we’ve voiced for quite some time now – that criminal activities