July 16, 2024

As the first line of defense in granting business permits, local government units must scrutinize documents of establishments, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said.

DILG Sec. Benjamin Abalos, Jr. said business process and licensing offices (BPLOs) and village officials must ensure only those who do legitimate operations would be given business permits.

“They have that power over those businesses, they should check every single business and at the bottom, you have the barangay captain before a business permit is granted, of course, they should be aware of all activities,” Abalos said.

The DILG chief said local officials who have reasons to believe a business is engaged in suspicious and illegal activities must coordinate with the authorities.

The move came following the recent raid at an illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) in Porac, Pampanga, allegedly operating as a scam farm.

Authorities discovered computers, mobile phones, guns, ammunition, and alleged uniforms of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Some foreigners who were alleged victims of torture were rescued from the facility.

Abalos, meanwhile, directed LGUs and the Philippine National Police to be on the lookout for some 200 to 400 establishments whose applications to operate as POGOs were rejected by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

“In my talks with the Pagcor chair, there are only 43 licensed POGOs here, so those 43 are undergoing weekly checks,” Abalos said.

“So you could just imagine, those that were not given permits might be still here in the Philippines and some of them are likely to be involved in illegal activities,” he added.

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission earlier urged LGUs to report suspected illegal POGO hubs and scam farms in their areas.

A prelate also believes it is high time for the government to prohibit POGOs in the country due to the social ills these have caused.

“Stop the POGOs. It is time to end the regime of Philippine Off-Shore Gaming Operators. Whatever benefits that allow them to operate may have been promised are overshadowed completely by the threat they carry with them and in fact, the dreadful harm of their presence,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a pastoral letter.

Aside from scam activities, the prelate said POGOs have been linked to crimes such as kidnapping, human trafficking, and murder.

“The recent raids that revealed the extent of the evil at these POGO hubs including incidences of human trafficking and torture and money laundering make it a moral imperative that no longer should they be granted the protection of the law and that they, in fact, should be outlawed,” Villegas added. – PNA