Duterte admin’s soft stance with China fueled POGO mess — Gordon
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday blamed the soft stance of the Duterte administration with regards the troubles surrounding the establishment of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country, which now supposedly includes money laundering.
In a press briefing at the Senate, Gordon speculated that much of the questionable million dollars being brought to the country by Chinese couriers may have been intended for POGO operations.
“This would never happen if the administration was not too soft on China. ‘Yun ang isang rason kung bakit sila (POGOs) nandito (That is the reason why they are here),” he said, referring to the Philippines’ relations with China.
He explained that the relaxed treatment of Duterte with China might have fueled other concerned agencies to tolerate the influx of Pogos and its surrounding issues.
“That’s why there is some tolerance. Natakot sila eh. Hindi nila alam kung may deal ba si boss dito, may deal ba ang Presidente dito? Pinagbibigyan niya itong mga ito? Nakakatakot ‘yan eh,” he said.
In a privilege speech on Tuesday, Gordon claimed that the inaction of anti-money-laundering authorities paved the way for Chinese and Filipino couriers to hand-carry more than $447 million — stashed in travel luggage — through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from September 2019 to February this year.
Gordon noted that Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero had notified the Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in September last year, “but up to now, these agencies have yet to act” on the report.
Heads of concerned agencies may be found guilty of dereliction of duty if they failed to act on the report of Guerrero, and if it was later on proven that the money coming in is, in fact, being brought here illegally, according to the senator.
“Tolerance is tolerance. Take it for what the word means. Hindi mo pinapahuli eh, edi may (You don’t arrest them, so it means there is) tolerance. Nagsumbong na sayo ‘yung Customs, ‘yung AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) hindi pa rin gumalaw (The Customs already reported it, but AMLC is still not doing anything),” he said.
Gordon added there could be “doubts” on the part of concerned agencies on how to act on the matter because of the President’s perceived closeness to China.
The senator initially said it may be possible that these agencies are thinking that Duterte and China might have had “secret negotiations” on the issue, but later retracted his statement.
“No, I didn’t say (that). Sinabi kong (I said) secret negotiations? I am probably tired. (I meant) hindi nila alam baka meron lang silang usapan na hindi natin nalalaman (they did not know there could be arrangements about this that we are not aware of),” he clarified.
But when asked categorically, Gordon said he wasn’t saying it was the President tolerating the questionable inflow of cash by Chinese couriers.
“There is tolerance. I don’t know where it is coming,” he said.
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