Pagcor confirms it was Harry Roque who ‘lobbied’ for an illegal POGO hub


Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alejandro Tengco on Wednesday, July 10 said it was former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who liaised in behalf of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) company in Pampanga that authorities raided twice in June for torture, scams and human trafficking activities. 


During the continuation of the Senate women and children’s panel on POGO-related crimes, the Pagcor chief said Roque appeared before his office in July 2023 to lobby for a solution to the financial issues of Lucky South 99, a POGO compound in Porac, Pampanga.


According to Tengco, the former Cabinet secretary accompanied Katherine Cassandra Ong, Lucky South 99’s authorized representative to his office for a meeting in July 2023.


Also present during the meeting was Pagcor Assistant Vice President for Offshore Gaming License Department Jessa Mariz Fernandez; she was among those subpoenaed by the Senate panel to attend the hearings.


According to Tengco, Ong sought the help of Pagcor with Lucky South’s arrears with the agency totaling $500,000 saying she entrusted their payments to Dennis Cunanan who, according to her, allegedly did not remit to Pagcor. He said Ong asked for some leeway to be allowed to pay in installments. 


Eventually, he said Lucky South 99 applied for a new license under Pagcor’s new guidelines in September 2023 and it was Roque who followed up with Fernandez’s office to check on the status of their application. 


Lucky South 99’s application, however, was later on rejected by Pagcor.


Tengco, nevertheless, clarified that Roque did not exert any pressure on Pagcor, but merely communicated with them on behalf of Lucky South.


“Sinamahan po niya. Maliwanag po yun. Dahil doon ko po nakilala si Binibining Cassandra. Doon nga pala tinanong ko rin if I may just, ‘Ma'am bakit po si Dennis Cunanan ang inyong representative kung kayo naman ang talagang nagpapatakbo niyan?’, (He accompanied her. That was clear. Because that was just the only time I met Ms. Cassandra. It was also during that time when I asked her, ‘Maam why did you choose Dennis Cunanan to be your representative when you are really the one running its operations)?” Tengco recalled. 


“Noon daw pong panahon na naga-apply sila ng lisensya, siya daw po ay inadvise-an ng kanyang abogado at ng Pagcor na baka masyado siyang bata na maging authorized representative (She told us that during the time they were applying for a license, she was advised by her lawyer and by PAGCOR that she is still to young to act as an authorized representative),” the Pagcor chief told the panel.


Eventually, Tengco said Roque did not contact his office but continually asked for the status of Luck South’s application with Fernandez who heads the licensing department. 




Asked how many times Roque contacted her office, Fernandez told senators Roque followed-up on Lucky South’s application six times—three of his calls were answered while two were not. 


“And then in May 14, 2024, in-inform ko po siya ng decision po namin na i-deny ang application ng Lucky South because nakakita na po talaga kami ng reason para po hindi na po talaga sila bigyan ng lisensya at that time (Then in May 14, 2024, I informed them about our decision to deny Lucky South’s application because we really saw the need to deny them a license at that time),” Fernandez said. 


Roque had earlier denied reports he is directly linked to Lucky South 99 even after Rappler, an online news media outlet, obtained a document showing him as the “legal head” in the organizational chart of the said illegal POGO hub.


The said document was used by the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality during the continuation of the panel’s hearing on POGO-related issues.