MANILA, Philippines –
Former PhilWeb Corp. Chairman Roberto Ongpin, singled out by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a campaign to end the influence of big businesses on the government, said he will sell his stake to protect the electronic gambling company and its workers.
Reeling from what he likened to being hit by lightning, embattled businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin said yesterday he would sell to the highest bidder his stake in electronic gaming firm PhilWeb Corp.
President Duterte singled out the former chairman of PhilWeb, which ceased operations yesterday, when he vowed last week to “destroy” the country’s oligarchs.
“Exactly one week ago, on August 3rd, I was struck by lightning and named as an ‘oligarch that must be destroyed’,”
Ongpin holds 771,749,896 shares of PhilWeb, which is equivalent to 53.76 percent of the total outstanding shares of the company. He commenced yesterday an open auction for all of his shares. Manila-based PhilWeb is a supplier of electronic gambling software he founded in 2000.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or Pagcor, the state-owned gambling company that also functions as a regulator, had said on Tuesday it won’t renew PhilWeb’s contract supplying to these so-called e-Games cafes, which offer electronic casino games such as baccarat, blackjack, slot machines and video poker.
Without the license, “They’ll have a tough time finding a buyer without PhilWeb’s main business and given Duterte’s stance against online gaming.”
There are 287 e-Games parlors in the Philippines run by 137 operators, and these will need to shut at midnight as PhilWeb’s contract to supply them with games expires Aug. 10, the company’s president Dennis Valdes said at the meeting, which was open to media.
“It will make no sense for anyone to buy PhilWeb if they can’t get a license. I am doing this auction so I can totally be out of the picture,” said Ongpin. About 5,000 people work in the parlors, according to the businessman.
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