More Pogos to shut down in Subic
Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) in the Subic Freeport are set to close down because of the economic difficulties brought about by the new coronavirus pandemic, according to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair Wilma Eisma.
The free port has four Pogo operations and only one has closed down, but “the owners of the remaining Pogos have said that they are also in the process of winding down,” Eisma said at an online briefing on Friday.
The SBMA is coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration for the cancellation of the Pogo workers’ visas because they would need to return to China or their country of origin, she said.
The workers could only stay in the Philippines if they are able to find new employment that would support their visa sponsorship, she added.
According to her, the impending closure of the gaming firms is an indication that the global economy has not yet recovered from the impact of COVID-19.
“Actually, it’s saddening in a way, because the Pogo closure is a signal that the economy is not yet there. And I would think [the] economy not just in the Philippines but also worldwide because the Pogo clients are not in the Philippines, but outside of it,” she said.
Eisma also said that aside from Pogo operations, other companies in Subic have been affected by the pandemic and are currently retrenching workers.
But there have also been new businesses coming in, she added, noting that she recently approved the entry of a company that would manufacture masks.
“If we have bad news, we also have a bit of good news because there are still investments coming into Subic,” she said.
So far, at least five Pogos have had their licenses canceled, bringing down the number of registered Pogos from 60 at the start of the year to 55, as of Sept. 8, amid stricter quarantine and tax rules.
The licenses of five other Pogos have also been suspended.
Only 29 were given authority to resume operations after paying the correct taxes and complying with health protocols. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
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