Posted on: May 30, 2022, 05:21h.
Last updated on: May 30, 2022, 11:12h.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is more than the country’s gaming regulator and casino operator. It is also a leading contributor to community and societal improvement efforts, which now include the first PAGCOR village in the Batangas province.
PAGCOR’s latest PAGCOR Village is located in Lemery in Batangas. The PHP30-million (US$573,300) project provides safe housing for families affected by the Taal Volcano eruption in January 2020.
Andrea Domingo, Chairman and CEO of PAGCOR, stated that this latest addition is just one of the entity’s many corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Its goal is to provide Filipinos with a better quality of life and to provide a “safe haven” from any potential hazards posed by the Taal Volcano eruption.”
PAGCOR Building the Philippines
PAGCOR recently allocated an additional PHP80 million (US$1.52 million) to help build a multipurpose evacuation center (MPEC), as well as a permanent residential site in two towns, including Lemery.
The regulator and Agoncillo’s municipal officials conducted the formal groundbreaking at the Barangay Pancipit Children’s Park for the town’s inaugural MPEC. The structure was built in a community located 14 km (8.4 miles) from the volcano danger zone. In December 2021, PAGCOR released the first tranche of PHP50 million (US$955,000) of MPEC funds to the region.
PAGCOR has so far released PHP1.87 billion (US$35.73 million) to fund the construction of MPECs. There are now MPECs in 76 approved sites nationwide, according to the Manila Bulletin. This includes seven in Albay, Capiz, and Tarlac. In Camarines Sur, there are additional villages in Ocampo Sagnay, San Jose, and Tiagon.
PAGCOR’s focus on building MPECs is part of one of its primary objective – to generate income to help the Philippine government fund its socio-civic development and national development programs. The organization is not accountable for any particular party or tribe.
PAGCOR reported recently that revenue from gaming operations increased by 35% year-on-year to PHP11.29 billion (US$225.8 million) in the first quarter. The net income grew by 35.05% to PHP624.7 million (US$11.8 million).
The increase comes on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Many casinos in the Philippines have reopened their doors. PAGCOR reported that it received PHP6.73 billion (US$128.54 million) in taxes and dues in the first quarter. The total spending increased 53.9% year-on-year to PHP5.07 billion (US$96.84 million) in the first three months of 2022.
Continued Risk of Eruption
The eruption of Taal Volcano, located 50 km (30 miles) south of Manila’s capital city in Batangas, occurred in January 2020. It impacted more than 736,000 people in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and the National Capital Region.
Despite calls for no permanent residency in the area, there are approximately 53,697 inhabitants and significant infrastructure within a radius of 10 km (6 miles). There are another 2.81 million inhabitants within 30 km (18 miles). With more than 30 eruptions, the Taal Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines.
Because of rising unrest, Taal Volcano has been on Alert Level 2 since March 9, 2021. This past March, the volcano erupted again. However, the eruption was not as intense as that of 2020. Still, the threat of another massive eruption remains.