Sen. Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos has stated that the Philippines and its other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should address the law and order challenges that are associated with offshore internet gaming.

The suggestion was made by the senator in response to an increase in the number of kidnappings and other crimes in the Philippines that are linked to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Marcos stated that her brother, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has not yet made a decision regarding whether or not to stop POGOs.

She is of the opinion that the majority of the taxes collected from gaming enterprises were frittered away due to bribery or “under the table” dealings of some kind.

She made reference to the report that stated the government collected between P4 billion and P6 billion in tax receipts. The senator continued by saying, “But what I know is that POGOs earn at least P50 billion or more.”

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During a raid on a POGO site in Cainta, Rizal, on Friday, the National Bureau of Investigation was able to save 73 Chinese nationals, as well as two Taiwanese and one each from the countries of Malaysia and Vietnam. It was alleged that their Chinese employer was mistreating them in some way.

In his speech, Marcos stated in the Filipino language, “We need to create an alliance with the Chinese police and the Hong Kong police and ask from them what was going on.”

She stated this on Sunday, “As a matter of fact, there is an ASEAN security [framework].” She continued by saying that the issue ought to be discussed at the meeting of ASEAN defense ministers in the near future.

“Therefore, this topic needs to be handled with Malaysia, Cambodia, and Burma (the countries in question should be named here). Asean ‘yan. Problema nating lahat ‘yan (That’s all our problem), “Marcos stated.

The Secretary of the Treasury and Finance, Benjamin Diokno, stated on Thursday that the POGO program must be terminated because of the “social cost” it imposes.

This point was emphasized during the briefing that was given by the Development Budget Coordination Committee on the proposed P5.268 trillion budget for 2023 that was sought by the Senate Committee on Finance, which is led by Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.

The head of the Finance department noted that total POGO revenue had fallen to P3.9 billion in 2021, down significantly from P7.2 billion in 2020.

“In point of fact, China has done away with POGO. Even Cambodia. Additionally, there is a risk to its reputation. People in China will likely question the purpose of their trip to the Philippines given that the activity has been phased out there. What are they hoping to accomplish by coming to the Philippines? Maybe because we are loose, we are not hard on our standards,” Diokno remarked.

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