In most countries, online gambling operators who run afoul of local rules and regulations face stiff fines and, occasionally, the loss of their licenses. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has a different plan. In a recent interview with CNN Philippines, Duterte threatened to “slap” or “shoot” online operators who play fast and loose with the rules by committing such atrocities as paying their taxes late.
Duterte has made a name for himself as a shoot-from-the-hip kind of leader who says whatever is on his mind, even when what’s on his mind is some sort of violent fantasy. In this case, the violent fantasy was shooting tax delinquents, or merely slapping them around. He used a sort of pun to suggest that the Philippines Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs) were like quails which he would shoot if they did not immediately pay up on their tax bills.
The Dirty Harry wannabe then softened his stance from shooting to merely slapping. His soft heart went a little softer and he graciously added that he would give POGOs three days to get themselves into compliance. Though he added, “Don’t fool around with Filipinos because Filipinos are not fools.”
This kind of violent, macho fantasy wordplay would be merely inappropriate when uttered by any other world leader, but it carries a particularly ominous tone when uttered by Duterte. He’swell known for encouraging vigilante justice against drug dealers, drug users, and even online gambling operators. Though gambling operators have generally been spared by Duterte’s mobs, more than 10,000 suspected drug dealers and users have perished in these extrajudicial campaigns.