Major business groups back POGO phaseout
MANILA, Philippines — Three prominent, local business groups are supporting government plans to shut down the operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the country.
“The social and reputational costs of the government sponsorship of operations that are globally frowned upon far outweigh any economic benefits,” read the joint statement of public advocacy group Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), as well as the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), adding that regulator oversight has been a problem for the past years.
This has led to monitoring and taxation issues with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the statement added.
“Conflicting mandates and the lure of corruption have rendered it and other government agencies incapable of effectively regulating POGOs,” the statement added.
The groups also cited that the multi-billion-peso industry has declined by 50 percent to 70 percent since the global outbreak of COVID-19 almost three years ago, suggesting that now is the best time to discontinue the industry.
China cites POGO’s harm
“The total ban will only result in temporary economic strains, as opposed to the enduring socio-economic consequences and heavier disruption if we do not act now,” it added.
“We fully support the Department of Finance’s push to phase out all POGO operations, and urge our legislators and the executive department to take all actions necessary to execute in an orderly way,” the joint statement concluded.
But earlier this month, a local industry association of POGOs and their service providers appealed to the government to reconsider plans to shut down their operations in the country.
The Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASPAP) said such a measure and policy direction from the Philippine government would lead to more than 23,000 Filipinos losing their jobs on top of the foregone contributions to the economy, which amounts to billions of pesos.
ASPAP said their member firms employ a total of 23,118 Filipinos, 11,766 of whom are direct hires and 11,342, indirect ones, on top of the 17,130 foreign nationals that are also employed in the gaming sector.
In the last six years, the group said that the POGO industry has contributed more than P61 billion to the government in terms of taxes and fees paid to Pagcor, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Bureau of Immigration.
Sought for comment, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said many other nations, including China, have declared the industry as illegal and banned its operations in their respective countries.
“We believe that the POGO industry not only has brought a lot of harm, a lot of negative impact on China, but also on the Philippines,” he said during the Kamuning Bakery Forum in Quezon City on Tuesday.
Xilian said China has outlawed it, reminding that it was illegal for Chinese citizens to work in the industry, whether back at their home country or overseas.
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