Duterte orders “all online gambling” closed
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he is ordering “all online gaming firms” closed because the government does not fully benefit from them.
"Mind you, I am ordering the closure of all online gaming. They have no use," Duterte said in a speech during the signing of the 2017 General Appropriations Act in Malacanang.
Duterte's plan to close online gaming came after the alleged multi-million extortion by two former immigration officials to online gaming businessman Jack Lam, owner of a casino in Pampanga where 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers were arrested by the Bureau of Immigration in November.
Duterte fired the two deputy immigration commissioners, who belong to his law school fraternity.
The president also reiterated the arrest order for the National Bureau of Investigation on Lam, who left the country on Nov. 29, three days after the undocumented Chinese workers were apprehended in Pampanga. His casino has been ordered closed by Duterte.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Duterte gave him the marching order to investigate online gambling.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go are drafting his authority to probe online gambling, he added.
He said he would form a team to probe on the matter.
In a text message to reporters, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. spokesperson Carmelita Valdez said Duterte’s closure order covers unlicensed online gaming firms . All applications for online gambling will go through Pagcor and an executive order to this effect is coming out, Valdez added.
Duterte added online gambling to his list of priorities to be investigated after he assumed office on June 30. On August he singled out Roberto Ongpin, chairman of gaming firm Philweb Corp.. “I do not have a way of collecting even the minimal tax,” said Duterte in a press conference then.
“I am ordering now Pagcor (Philippine Amusement Board and Gaming Corp) to cancel it. It’s gambling and it proliferates,” he said.
Ongpin resigned from Philweb Corp and was replaced by Greggy Araneta as the chairman. Celerina Monte/DMS