Philippines officials rush to moderate president’s comments on online gambling

News on 24 Dec 2016

Philippines officials have rushed to moderate their president Rodrigo Duterte’s recent, and clearly hasty and uniformed, outburst threatening to ban all online gambling in the country (see previous  reports).

In addition to a clarification from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority that contrary to the presidential tirade it did not actually issue online gambling licenses or police them, which is Pagcor’s job, the chief of the latter body, Andrea Domingo also issued a statement.

Domingo “clarified” that the president had only referred to banning unlicensed operators in his rant against online gambling, and not those licensed and administered by her state-owned organisation with the approval of the government. This would be clarified and formalised in an executive order from the president soon, she said.

The Justice Secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre, also advised reporters that the president had intended to say that it was unlicensed operators who would be shut down, and that legitimate licensed operators with Pagcor who are compliant with regulations “have nothing to fear”.

Aguirre added that the president’s forthcoming executive order would appoint him to lead an online task force with powers to enforce laws against illegal online gambling activity in the Philippines, including the economic incentive zones of Cagayan, Aurora and Bataan.

President Duterte estimates that illegal gambling activity has denied the Philippines government of the equivalent of around US$ 20 billion, he said although there was no detail substantiating that estimate.

On Friday yet another local company, DFNN, reacted to the presidential gaffe by confirming in a statement that “the President’s remarks pertain to online gaming that is not under the supervision of Pagcor.”

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