Duterte is desperately trying to justify his call to reopen Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), online casinos ran by Chinese capitalists, despite its lockdown which prohibits the operation of enterprises that are “non-essential” in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. POGOs provide exclusive gambling services to foreigners through the internet.
Duterte and his minions including Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa are making it appear that POGOs are essential to the economy despite the fact that these companies are notorious for tax evasion. In fact, POGOs have accumulated a total debt of P50 billion pesos. Additionally, the POGO industry also serves as a haven for Chinese syndicates. (See related article in Ang Bayan, February 21.) A senate inquiry is being conducted to investigate the prevalence of illegal activities in POGOs such as money laundering and prostitution, among many others.