MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday criticized Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for allegedly failing to inspect a controversial internet gaming licensee supposedly operating as a front for various crimes.
Gatchalian raised his concern during the Senate committee on women’s hearing on the alleged irregularities at Smart Web Technology – a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo) firm located in Pasay City.
“What kind of inspection are you doing? Because in my opinion, this is [a] failure of regulation. If [we] are doing our jobs properly… regulating… hindi mangyayari lahat po ito eh (this wouldn’t happen),” said Gatchalian.
Smart Web Technology became controversial for allegedly being involved in various crimes and offenses, particularly prostitution, human trafficking, torture, kidnapping for ransom, and online scams.
Pagcor Senior Vice President Ret. Gen. Raul Villanueva, however, pointed out that as regulators of Pogo firms in the country, the agency is doing its mandate to inspect hubs, including the Smart Web Technology.
“We have an inspection. We inspected this [firm],” said Villanueva, but he later admitted that Pagcor wasn’t able to inspect the aforementioned hub thoroughly.“Hindi namin mapasok at mainspect basta basta kasi it’s a violation of their…siguro… privacy nila,” Villanueva told Gatchalian.
(We can’t enter and inspect right away because it’s a violation of their… maybe… their privacy.)The senator, however, stressed that as a regulator, Pagcor has the right to inspect the firms of its licensees.
To this, Villanueva reiterated that Pagcor does not have “police power,” adding that they are only relying on the Department of Justice and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.Later in the hearing, Gatchalian said that Pagcor, being the regulator of Pogo firms is already a “conflict of interest.”
“On one hand, you want to make money, on the other hand, you need to regulate and this doesn’t go well together. That’s why we’re here now in this problem, in this fiasco,” said Gatchalian.
“The committee should really look into this conflict of interest because it is now being exploited by criminal syndicates. These criminal syndicates are smarter than us, they know there is a problem with our system that’s why they are here,” he added.