Archbishop joins calls to outlaw Pogos

June 18, 2024 - 3:26 PM
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan. (Screenshot /Father Soc via YouTube)

A Catholic archbishop has joined calls to outlaw Chinese offshore gambling operations because of their harmful effects on the country.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan wrote a pastoral letter saying it’s time to end the Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) industry.

He said any promised benefits of allowing them to operate are far outweighed by the serious threats and harm they bring.

“Whatever benefits that allow them to operate may have been promised are overshadowed completely by the threat they carry with them and in fact, the dreadful harm of their presence,” Villegas said.

Pogos are Chinese-run online gaming companies serving customers abroad, which grew in the Philippines during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s time.

Calls to ban Pogos have come up again due to increased reports of the industry being linked to crimes like kidnapping, human trafficking, and murder.

Some government officials also want to stop Pogo operations after raiding large illegal gambling hubs in Tarlac and Pampanga.

Alejandro Tengco, the head of the state gaming regulator Pagcor, said in a news report that around 250 to 300 Pogos were operating in the Philippines without a license. This is six times more than the 46 legal operators.

“The recent raids that revealed the extent of the evil at these Pogo hubs including incidences of human trafficking and torture and money laundering make it a moral imperative that no longer should they be granted the protection of the law and that they, in fact, should be outlawed,” Villegas said.