A Philippine commission for state-run companies has joined calls to make Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) a purely regulatory body.
The Governance Commission for Government-owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) has recommended to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to split PAGCOR into a gaming regulator and a casino operator to prevent future conflicts, according to a GMA News Online report.
The commission’s recommendation was based on the review it conducted in relation to competitive neutrality issues. PAGCOR and 11 other GOCCs underwent thorough scrutiny as part of the GOCC’s commitment to the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.
Under the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the commission is tasked to give the President a recommendation on GOCCs for dispositive action “upon determination that there is a conflict between the regulatory and commercial functions of a GOCC.”
“It is the firm belief of the Governance Commission that there should be a level playing field between GOCCs and corporations in the private sector performing similar commercial activities,” the Commission said, according to the news outlet.
PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo declined to comment on the issue, saying that “if the recommendation is with the President, I will withhold my comments.”
This is not the first time that PAGCOR’s conflicting mandate as a state regulator and a casino operator has been put under the spotlight. Lawmakers previously proposed stripping PAGCOR’s licensing powers and operator functions and change its name to Philippine Amusements and Gaming Authority (PAGA).
House Bill No. 6111 also provides that all casino, gaming and gambling operators would be required to secure legislative franchises, just like public utilities.
PAGA would be tasked with detecting offenses, receiving and investigating complaints, adjudicating disputes between operators and patrons, inspecting equipment and selling related assets, aside from regulating all gambling and gaming activities, according to the proposed measure.
If it passes in Congress, PAGA will be run by a five-member board of directors, whose members should be at least 30 years old and have at least two years of industry experience.