Lawmakers consider removing Pagcor licensing power

The Philippines continues to grapple with the fallout from the attack on Resorts World Manila, with lawmakers threatening a bill that would strip the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) of its power to grant licenses to casinos, local media reports.

An indebted problem gambler was responsible for the attack, which left 37 people dead. The man stormed the casino armed with a gun and set light to casino tables. Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation. 

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on Wednesday said he had been instructed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to draft a bill to amend Republic Act 9487, the Act which allows the gaming regulator to authorize and grant gaming licenses.

“By a presidential decree, the power was delegated to Pagcor to have the sole authority to authorize licenses and regulate gambling. That should not be allowed. That should only be a congressional grant of license,” Fariñas said.

“Under the leadership of the Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez], we will review Republic Act (RA) [Number] 9487 with the view of amending it and repealing altogether Presidential Decree (PD) Number 1869,” said Fariñas.

In turn, Pagcor blamed security lapses at the casino. Chair Andrea Domingo said the casino had failed to strengthen their security measures and to abide by ordinances on curfews and other security-related matters in the cities where the casinos operate.

“From our assessment, there was really a lack of security in the entrance and parking lots in RWM… [There was a] lack of [an] adequate [number] of properly equipped security personnel, and this can be seen from their video that we saw,” said Domingo.