Pagcor Confirms Harry Roque as Legal Head of Raided POGO Operator

In a recent Senate panel hearing, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Alejandro Tengco confirmed that former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque is the “legal head” of Lucky South 99, a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) that was recently raided. The revelation was made on Wednesday, July 10, during the fourth hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, children, family relations, and gender equality, which is investigating illegal POGOs.

Harry Roque

According to Tengco, Roque had acted as a liaison for Lucky South 99 and facilitated meetings with Pagcor officials. One significant meeting took place in July 2023, where Roque brought Katherine Cassandra Ong, a representative of Lucky South 99, to Tengco’s office. This meeting also included Pagcor Assistant Vice President for Offshore Gaming License Department Jessa Mariz Fernandez. Ong, who was subpoenaed by the Senate panel, is facing issues related to the company’s arrears with Pagcor, which amount to $500,000.

Tengco detailed that Ong had entrusted their Pagcor payments to Dennis Cunanan, the company’s authorized representative. However, Cunanan allegedly failed to remit the payments to Pagcor, leading to the substantial debt. During the meeting, Ong requested to be allowed to pay the arrears in installments. Roque, present at the meeting, asserted that he was there to assist Ong, whom he described as the “aggrieved party.”

The involvement of Roque, a former Cabinet secretary, in this situation has raised concerns about the connections between prominent political figures and the offshore gaming industry. Roque’s role as the legal head of Lucky South 99, coupled with his active participation in addressing the company’s financial issues, highlights the intricate links and potential conflicts of interest within the POGO sector.

The Senate committee’s hearings have been part of a broader effort to crack down on illegal POGOs, which have been associated with various criminal activities, including human trafficking, prostitution, and money laundering. The case of Lucky South 99 and the involvement of high-profile individuals like Roque underscore the complexity and challenges in regulating this industry.

As the investigation continues, the Senate panel is expected to delve deeper into the operations of Lucky South 99 and the roles played by its representatives and legal advisors. The outcome of these hearings could have significant implications for the regulation of POGOs and the broader gaming industry in the Philippines.

In conclusion, the confirmation of Harry Roque’s involvement with Lucky South 99 adds a new dimension to the ongoing investigation into illegal POGOs. It raises critical questions about the influence of political figures in the gaming industry and the measures needed to ensure transparency and accountability.

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