International edition
June 25, 2021

According to statements by Senator Franklin Drilon

Philippines President may order Pagcor to stop operating casinos

(Philippines).- President Benigno Aquino III may order the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporations (Pagcor) to stop operating casinos by issuing an executive order and then bid this out to the private sector, Senator Franklin Drilon said this week.

S

enator Franklin Drilon issued this as statement after San Miguel Corp, through its vice chairman Ramon Ang, expressed its interest to buy the state-run gaming agency, along with some Malaysian partners.

Drilon said it was well within the President's power to adopt a policy that would limit the powers of Pagcor to issue licenses and regulate casinos, but not operate them. “Of course as a matter of policy, the President can say henceforth, Pagcor will no longer operate casinos. That's feasible but it should be bidded out. The actual operations of the casino should be bidded out because that will promote transparency,” he told reporters.

“It's well within the power of the president to adopt as a policy that henceforth, Pagcor, will not operate the casinos—that it will only be a licensing and regulatory agency,” he further said.

Another option, Drilon said, was to amend the charter of Pagcor to limit its power to licensing and regulating only, which he was also pushing. “I am in favor of limiting Pagcor to being a licensing and regulatory agency and not an operator of the Pagcor, of gaming industry. This is the model in Las Vegas, in Macau,” he said. “Let us amend the Charter of Pagcor and let it the only a licensing and regulatory agency,” the senator added.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also supported this move as he urged the government to be “very transparent” about this issue. “I have always believed that Pagcor cannot and should not be a regulator and operator at the same time,” Escudero said in a text message.

“However, how and when will it be done and what about future potential income of Pagcor—all these plus other details must be studied carefully and I urge government t to be very transparent regarding this sensitive issue,” he further said. Like Drilon and Escudero, Senator Sergio Osmena had earlier expressed the same sentiment favoring the privatization of Pagcor.

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