POGO operation legal, charges not true – lawyer says

The statement of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) that Lucky South 99 Corp, an internet gaming licensee, also known as the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO), was doing business illegally, is baseless.
This was asserted in his statement by the company’s lawyer, Atty. Jovito Barte during the weekly “Kapihan sa QC” held at Mangan Tila Restaurant, Scout Torillo Street on Saturday, June 23.
The lawyer also deplored attempts to demonize the company, with PAOCC throwing all kinds of accusations at it, the most serious of which was that it had been operating without a license.
He pointed out that Lucky South 99 had a provisional license granted by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), but the license was revoked by the same government agency on May 22.
The PAOCC raided the LS99 compound in Porac, Pampanga, on June 3, or a a little more than a week after the license was revoked. It is true that the company had no license anymore, but it is misleading to say that it was operating illegally.
According to the lawyer the company had totally stopped all operation by then. It was merely winding down its affairs when the raid took place.
“Those who’ve had experience managing a huge company know it takes some time to terminate the services of employees, pay off the suppliers, and settle the company’s debts and other obligations,” the lawyer said.
Atty Barte said the raid was illegal, noting that there were two search warrants issued. The first was recalled because of procedural infirmities.
The anti-crime commission obtained the second search warrant, after realizing its mistake, but by then its operatives had already been conducting the search and seizure operation for the past three days.
“The second search warrant cannot correct the defect of the first,” the lawyer said.
Around 150 foreigners were arrested, but they were arrested without warrant, and the arrest were made in the surrounding areas, not in the compound.
“There was no indication that they had committed any crime,” Atty Barte said, “Therefore, keeping them in jail is tantamount to arbitrary detention.”
Atty. Barte said PAOCC violated the rules when it proceeded with the search and seizure operation without company representatives being present. The commission declared it has seized P40 million in cash from the premises, but it has not yet provided the company with an inventory of items seized, as provided for by law.
The lawyer also said that the large number of cellular phones seized during the raid was integral to the company’s operation. The company was aiming at a potential clientele of 1.4 billion players in the [Chinese] Mainland, thus the need for the phones.
He suggested that the two men found with bruises on their body may have been the victims of gangs at war with each other. In a community of 7,000 employees living in one compound, violence is bound to happen, but the company has nothing to do with it.
On the other hand, the PLA uniform found in one of the rooms is too small for a real soldier to wear. It is in all probability a child’s costume or a souvenir.
Until its license was revoked, the company had been religiously remitting $200,000 a month to Pagcor. So far, it has paid Pagcor $300 million for the privilege of operating as an internet gaming company.