By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has pledged to prosecute any group which will be found to be involved in money laundering through online casinos in the country.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo affirmed that the government was monitoring these Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to ensure these businesses are not used to commit a crime or launder money.
“Mayroon naman tayong monitoring diyan eh. Kung lumabag sila sa batas, they will be prosecuted [We are monitoring that. If they violate the law, they will be prosecuted],” he said during a Palace press briefing when asked how the government would ensure POGOs will not be a haven for money laundering activities.
Apart from concerns on alleged money laundering, Panelo said the government would not tolerate any abuses against Chinese nationals working in online casinos.
He assured anew that they will enforce the law against anyone, who will violate the right of the foreign workers in the country.
“Pinapaimbestigahan natin iyong kanilang mga reklamo, iyong concern nila [We will investigate their complaints, their concerns],” he said.
“Ang concern kasi ng China iyong—iligal kasi sa kanila at dito pumapasok. And then, ang kliyente naman nung mga pumapasok sa POGO ay puro mga Chinese [The concern of China is it is illegal in their country and it is allowed here. The client of POGOs are mostly Chinese],” he said.
China earlier appealed to the Philippine government to protect the rights of Chinese nationals in the country amid concerns many have been illegally recruited to work in POGOs.
It also claimed that the presence of overseas gambling hubs, which target Chinese citizens as customers, also resulted in the illegal transfer of Chinese money while increasing social problems in the mainland.
China prohibits any form of gambling by Chinese citizens, including online gambling.
“Huge amount of Chinese funds has illegally flown out of China and illegally into the Philippines, involving crimes such as cross-border money laundering through underground banking, which undermines China’s financial supervision and financial security,” the embassy of China in Manila said in a recent statement.
“A conservative estimate shows that gambling-related funds flowing illegally out China and into the Philippines amounts to hundreds of millions of Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) every year. There are analysts who believe that part of the illegal gambling funds has flown into local real estate markets and other sectors in the Philippines,” it added.