Philippines: PAOCC proposes gradual phaseout of POGOs amidst persistance of illegal operations

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In a statement at the Saturday News Forum held in Quezon City, Dr. Winston Casio, spokesperson for the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), advocated for a phased approach to address the presence of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country.

Dr. Casio expressed the view that a gradual phaseout, coupled with transitional measures, could effectively mitigate the issues associated with what he referred to as “scam farms.”

“Before we direct ourselves to a discussion on total ban, we could probably revisit discussions of phaseout,” remarked Dr. Casio during the forum.

However, Dr. Casio clarified that decisions on POGO are a policy issue. “On matters like that, we would defer to first our Executive Secretary (Lucas Bersamin), who’s the chairman of our commission,” he said.

Dr. Casio emphasized that any policy recommendations made by Executive Secretary Bersamin to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. would guide their approach. Ultimately, authorities respect and defer to his final decisions on these matters.

Providing an overview of the current POGO landscape in the Philippines, Dr. Casio noted that only 42 POGOs are operating legally, with one located in Kawit, Cavite, and the remainder in Metro Manila. Despite the government’s efforts to revoke 298 POGO licenses, unauthorized operations persist across multiple regions nationwide.

From Northern Luzon to Mindanao and Central Visayas, unauthorized POGOs continue to operate illegally, Dr. Casio pointed out.

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