October 13, 2023, 07:34h: Former Chief Lacson Criticizes Philippine National Police for Moonlighting in POGO Security
The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) segment and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have received a strong rebuke from the man who used to lead the police force. In a bold critique of the PNP, former Chief Panfilo Lacson – who is also a three-term former senator – has raised concerns over officers engaging in moonlighting activities as private security for operators of POGOs.
In a recent critique, former Chief Panfilo Lacson expressed concerns over police officers working as private security for POGO operators, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest within law enforcement. Lacson’s remarks come amidst increased scrutiny of the POGO industry, which has faced various controversies in recent times.
Lacson emphasized that police officers, while on active duty, should not be working simultaneously as private security for companies in industries under regulatory scrutiny. The former Chief’s remarks, shared on X (formerly Twitter), also seemed to directly criticize the new PNP chief, Major General Benjamin Acorda, who took office earlier this year.
Philippine Police Under Scrutiny
The involvement of law enforcement in POGO security operations raises concerns about the impartiality and independence of the police force when dealing with potential legal violations within the gaming sector. The POGO industry has been embroiled in numerous scandals lately, involving accusations of human trafficking, coercion, and physical abuse.
To the PNP leadership, thank you for this. Go get them. Many netizens shared the same sentiment based on personal knowledge or experience. Just to remind you, we never tolerated moonlighting and ‘kotong’ cops when I was your CPNP. https://t.co/dF5qB8fctv
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) October 12, 2023
In response to Lacson’s concerns, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has initiated an investigation. DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. stated that charges could be filed if the allegations are proven true.
The DILG is dedicated to ensuring the transparency and integrity of law enforcement agencies. The investigation seeks to determine the extent of police involvement in POGO-related security operations, identify any potential protocol breaches, and recommend necessary actions to maintain the credibility of the police force.
POGO Market Faces Changes
The POGO sector is at a significant turning point as the gaming regulator PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp) prepares to release its list of recently licensed offshore gaming operators later this month. This follows a significant shift in the regulatory landscape, placing all POGOs under a “probationary stance” in August.
The revised regulatory framework includes a stringent probity process for operators seeking licensing approval. PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco revealed that the regulatory body will reissue between 55 and 65 licenses, while rejecting dozens more.
In a semantic change, these operators will no longer be referred to as POGOs, but instead as Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs), reflecting a broader rebranding effort within the industry. This change aims to eliminate the negative connotations associated with the term POGO.
There have been calls to completely dissolve the POGO sector and ban all online gambling due to the numerous cases of human trafficking associated with certain operators.
However, PAGCOR has clarified that these cases did not involve licensed POGOs, as the crimes were committed by operators who had already left the licensed market. The debate continues within the Philippine government.