It’s interesting how Noynoy Aquino’s Administration shamelessly continues Gloria Arroyo’s graft-ridden government programs, such as the conditional cash-transfer program, which is now used for politicking.
Malacañang, rather quite discreetly, has also exploited the government-operated and controlled corporations it inherited from Arroyo, and one of such milking cows is the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) in Mariveles, Bataan.
AFAB, under board chairman and administrator Deogracias G.P. Custodio, has allegedly allowed the freeport to become a hub for illegal online gambling operations.
Well-placed sources said Custodio, whose six-year term ends this year, has reportedly found good graces in the sight of the powers that be in Palace.
Napakasuwerte ang mga pinagpalang ito!
That is why I am verifying reports that AFAB had authorized a locator or entity called the Grand Innovasia Concept Corp. (GICC) as a “master licensor” of online international casino operators, which is being questioned by my sources.
Dozens of gambling lords, associated with the notorious Wang Bo, have reportedly set up their illicit operation, which has become a multi-million dollar business at the freeport.
It didn’t surprise me at all when insiders also told me that a retired Philippine National Police and military officials serve as “padrinos” or protectors of GICC’s illegal gambling operations.
Intended as a decentralized and self-sustaining industrial, commercial-trading, agro-industrial, tourist, banking, financial and investment center, the former Bataan Economic Zone was converted to Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 9728 in October 2009.
It aims to attract legitimate and productive investments and employment opportunities for residents of Mariveles and other Bataan localities.
RA 9728, or The Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) Act of 2009, states that AFAB would “operate on its own, either directly or through a license to other tourism-related activities, including games, amusements, recreational and sports facilities, subject to the approval and supervision of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
So, are these online casinos in the special economic zone operating on invalid permits or licenses issued by GICC without Pagcor approval?
If so, how can these online casinos be legally entitled to income tax holiday (ITH) and other tax breaks if they are neither licensed by Pagcor, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) or Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO)?
Doesn’t it stink to discover that the GICC group of online casinos of questionable legal status operate at the main building of AFAB?
We surely like to hear from the AFAB chairman and administrator Custodio to enlighten us on this issue.
We would also like GICC President Xiajing Luo and casino operator Shirley Shinn to explain to us why their company would be considered a business process outsourcing (BPO).
In the first place, this type of business that consists of taking wagers on various types of virtual games, including slot machines, poker, blackjack, roulette and other forms of gambling online, can hardly be categorized as a BPO.
Instead of selling products or “tourism-related” services as targeted by the authors of RA 9728, these illegal online gambling operations cater to Chinese clientele in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.
That is why we are also alarmed by reports that the AFAB has indiscriminately issued work visas to Chinese of dubious characters to work as “call center agents” or customer service representatives in these gambling establishments.
Looks like Noynoy’s Administration is bent on continuing Gloria Arroyo’s vision of matuwid na daan (straight path) in Bataan Freeport.
Before the holidays, GICC reportedly held a ground-breaking ceremony for an information “techno park” at the freeport, which was well-attended by local provincial and city officials, as well as AFAB.
I bet they must have had a fabulous Christmas and a prosperous New Year celebration!
Meantime, we’ll dig deeper into this irregularity.
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