ONLINE GAMBLING ISSUE KEEPS PHILIPPINE OFFICIALS BUSY OVER CHRISTMAS (Update)
Bataan governor meets with senior officials following latest Duterte outburst.
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte's weekend decision to appoint a national task force to investigate online gambling in the nation's freeports in Aurora, Cagayan and Bataan had officials in the latter province gathering despite the Christmas holidays at the request of the governor, Abet S. Garcia.
Garcia and a slew of top administrators and enforcement chiefs clarified that the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) was created by Republic Act 9728 and mandated Bataan to regulate its own gambling casinos, online gaming and other tourism-related activities.
This authority is subject to the approval and supervision of national regulator Pagcor, but the act specifically provides that such approval must not be unreasonably withheld, the meeting was informed.
The meeting was in part called following a request for clarity on the issue by Grand Innovasia Concept Corp., the exclusive Master licensor operating online gambling inside Bataan Freeport, which is disturbed by events and presidential comments in recent weeks.
AFAB chairman Engr. Emmanuel D. Pineda expressed concern over the current situation, referencing the November raids at Clark Field which saw the arrest of 1,316 Chinese online gambling workers, industry disruption and a string of knock-on events that has prompted intervention at the highest levels of government.
He said that the incident had tremendously affected AFAB locators and future investors, “creating tension, fears, anxiety and uncertainty, not to mention the nightmare our locators are experiencing.”
Pineda revealed that his organization had recently received information about an impending raid by the authorities during December on online gaming operators, causing further apprehension among locators.
Governor Garcia told the meeting:
“It is very clear under RA 9728 that AFAB can operate online gaming, gambling casinos, etc as this will generate income and employment.”
Both the governor and Engr. Pineda pointed out that nothing is illegal regarding Grand Innovasia Concept Corporation’s operation of online gaming as this is allowed by the law and is perfectly legitimate.