PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ordered the closure of all online gaming firms in the country following the bribery controversy involving Macau-based gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
“I am ordering the closure of all online gaming [firms]. Lahat, walang silbi [All of them, they have no use],” the President said in his remarks after signing the 2017 national budget.
In a chance interview with reporters, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd clarified that Duterte was referring to online gambling firms.
He said he was already discussing Duterte’s marching orders with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go.
“They are now drafting the scope of my authority to investigate on online gambling,” Aguirre told reporters.
Duterte cited the case of Lam, who operated at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino at Clark free port in Pampanga where 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers were nabbed by Bureau of Immigration agents on November 24.
“You know, I shut it down because this is what they do, I have the white paper written by somebody. The online operation is in the Philippines but betting is outside. We don’t have a mechanism…,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Duterte previously vowed to stop online gambling during his administration’s first Cabinet meeting on June 30.
The President singled out Roberto Ongpin, former chairman of listed gaming technology firm PhilWeb Corp., as among the oligarchs embedded in government who must be “destroyed.”