"We cannot afford to be complacent, but at the same time we should not panic."
President Duterte has said he’s not keen on shutting down the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) despite the outcry of several senators and other politicians to do so.
According to Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo, the President made his decision after finding out that the POGO revenues may be tapped for the government response action on the looming pandemic threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This followed the initial report of Chairman Andrea Domingo of the regulatory agency Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
According to Domingo, POGOs generated at least P8 billion in franchise taxes in 2019.
We must support Manong Digong on this one, pending the submission of a complete report on the issue of POGOs and their operations reported links to alleged money laundering activities and crimes involving Chinese nationals.
There’s a need to validate the allegations and derogatory reports on the involvement of POGOs in crimes, particularly those involving Chinese POGO workers. We expect a thorough investigation by the Philippine National Police, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
We are confident that the PNP and other law enforcement authorities are on top of the situation as far as ensuring that Chinese POGO workers abide by Philippine laws.
We must share at this point the President’s sense of urgency in declaring a public health emergency in the wake of increased cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection, rising from three to 10 over the weekend.
The Department of Health, particularly the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, needs funds to cover the costs of quarantine and laboratory testing of persons under investigation (PUIs) for possible COVID-19 infection. We need to set up more RITM and quarantine facilities.
It is the mandate of PAGCOR and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to contribute to the funding of socio-civic, as well as national-building, programs, so supporting the government’s response action to the COVID-19 threat falls well within the province of PAGCOR’s programs.
As I’ve said, we cannot afford to be complacent. Yet, we also must avoid panicking in view of this global health crisis which the World Health Organization categorized as a risk of the highest level, short of saying it is in fact a pandemic now.
Since 31 December 2019 and as of 8 March 2020, up to 105, 828 cases of COVID-19 (in accordance with the applied case definitions in the affected countries) have been reported, including 3,584 deaths.
The deaths have been reported from China (3,099), Italy (233), Iran (145), South Korea (50), United States Of America (17), France (10), an international conveyance in Japan (6), Japan (6), Spain (5), Australia (3), Iraq (2), United Kingdom (2), Argentina (1), Netherlands (1), San Marino (1), Switzerland (1), Taiwan (1) and Thailand (1).
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