Philippine congressman Ben Eaverdone (Rep. Eastern Samar) recently expressed his opposition against a bill filed by Sen. Ralph Recto to abolish the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corportation (Pagcor).
A few weeks ago, Recto filed Senate Bill 3178, calling for the abolition of the government agency and replacing it with a new organization, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Commission (Pagcom). According to Recto, Pagcor’s current status as a government agency allows it to play the dual role of regulator and operator, a dynamic that the Philippine senator doesn’t agree with. In talking to the Inquirer, Rector said that the government “has no business running gambling facilities” and that it “should deal with coordination and control of gaming entities but should not get involved in direct gaming operation.”
Evardone’s opposition to Recto’s bill isn’t all that surprising, considering that as presently constructed, the gaming agency has produced tremendous revenues while also generating plenty of funds in order for the government to run a number of its social programs. Talking to the Business Mirror, the Eastern Samar touched on the revenues Pagcor has generated in its current make-up as a government agency. “Pagcor, throughout the years, has been a major source of revenues for the government,” he said.
“Aside from that, Pagcor has been assisting financially other government and private agencies and institutions in carrying out its social-related functions in the areas of health, education, environment, sports and other related fields.”
Evardone also called into question the timing of the new bill, especially since it could drive away potential investors in the agency’s upcoming mega-blockbuster project, the Entertainment City. According to the congressman, changing the structure of Pagcor and its subsequent role as an agency could derail, or at the very least, slow down the much ballyhooed Las Vegas-style complex, which is already in its final preparations.
“The proposal to abolish Pagcor could delay the timetable for the Entertainment City, which is scheduled for completion by 2016. It might also send wrong signals to the investors to change the rules in the middle of the game.”
While both lawmakers make salient points about their arguments, we’re on Eavrdone’s side on this one. Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. has done a great job steering the agency in the right direction and it has been recording record revenues month after month. Why the need to submarine all that momentum now?