23,000 Jobs and Up To ₱61 Billion in Taxes Lost Once POGOs Leave

Posted by DG, Date posted at October 23, 2022

The Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASPAP) met up with the press and voiced out their side of a much-maligned industry for the past few months. They presented their side of the industry and its current precarious state with the Philippine government. 

Chinese citizens working for Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGO to process their papers at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila. Photo was taken in 2020.
Image source: INQUIRER

The Philippine government is set to execute plans for a much harsher environment for the POGOs in the country as it continues with the takedown of questionable entities and parties connected to illegal POGOs. The reputation and perception of legal POGOs are tainted with such news as well as entice negative public impressions of legitimate gaming corporations. 

Representatives of ASPAP are pleading to put a stop to the plans to shut down operations in the country. The undeniable and palpable effect of having 23,000 Filipinos lose their jobs over this takedown would impact not just their immediate families but also create a dent in the Philippine economy.  ASPAP has pointed out how the government was able to earn billions of pesos where POGOs contribute to economic growth that surrounds their businesses. 

Digressing further, The Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASPAP) emphasizes that member firms employ a total of 23,118 — direct hires total of 11,766 and 11,342 are indirect ones. To complement this, there are 17,130 foreign nationals who are employed in the gaming sector.

Lawyer, Paul Bongco, ASPAP’s spokesperson imparted that “ASPAP is worried because the impact [will] really affect the lives of many Filipino employees who are now working with our accredited POGOs and service providers.” 

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Impactful news that negates economic growth for everyone

Further presenting strong and critical numbers, Bongco cited that of the 68 service providers, only 16 out of the 35 POGO firms licensed by the state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) are members of the trade association. This shows that the number of employees to be affected will be much higher than the current tag of 23,000.

PHP61,000,000,000.00 tax revenue will be lost

“The recommendation to get rid of POGOs will somehow greatly diminish also the government’s income,” the ASPAP official added. Bongco showed data that for the last six years, the POGO industry has contributed more than PHP61,000,000,000.00 to the government in taxes and fees paid to PAGCOR, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Bureau of Immigration.

Filipino POGO workers and families will be back to dire straits

Bongco cited that should the government continue its trajectory to drive away POGO firms, this would also negatively affect thousands of Filipino families as well as halt the huge potential of economic growth in real estate that impacts the communities directly. This will hit not just those directly connected to the POGOs but the surrounding areas where business is thriving largely due to the dynamic environment that accompanies POGOs.

ASPAP has gathered data and information showing they employ a diverse set of employees that span various disciplines and fields of specialization.

These are just some of the statistics that ASPAP pointed out as critical numbers to ponder:

  • 31.4 percent of their Filipino workers served as team leaders or supervisors, administrative assistants, sport-book handlers, kitchen staff, security officers, and finance and accounting assistants
  • 16 percent work as data entry clerks
  • 10.5 percent as customer service representatives
  • 10 percent as housekeepers
  • The rest are comprised of general office staff, company drivers, payment officers, maintenance staff, dealers or presenters, data processors, and security guards.

Personal testimonies of POGO employees

Working as a language translator, Nelia Leonardo, a 43-year-old single mother of two, expressed fear of losing her job should the government push through with shutting down POGOs. “I’m afraid because it is a good job with good pay. With my income, I have partially paid for a small house and a tricycle.” She earns about P35,000 a month, with benefits, including accommodation and free food for her and her sons.

Nasrudin Abdullah, a father of 10 who earns P25,000 a month as a Pogo driver for the past five years showed his sentiments that he might be forced to go back to seeking work abroad if he ceases being an employee of one of the Pogo firms.

“For people like me who had minimal education, there is nowhere else to go for work except in other countries. You cannot get employed by companies here in the Philippines because you lack education. No one will hire you,” he said.

PAGCOR affirms the negative revenue impact 

PAGCOR verifies reports that the overall revenue of POGOs has been declining from P8.021 billion in 2019 to P3.46 billion in 2021. POGO licensees also declined to 37 in 2021 from 53 in 2020 to 37 in 2021, with only 27 still operating by the end of last year.

Rep. Joey Salceda expresses concern about POGOs closing down

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda succinctly expressed his concern on this matter — that a total POGO ban “is burning the house to kill a rat that isn’t even in the house in the first place.”

“I see no path forward for a total ban on POGOs without the government impairing contracts or stepping on the rights of legitimate businesses. Those who advocate for a total end to the sector are courting legal disaster. Remember, the Supreme Court affirmed in its most recent decision on Pogo taxes that we can’t just impose unduly burdensome conditions on the sector,” he said.

He further emphasized that Pogos also contribute around P128 billion in economic activity both directly and indirectly, “I estimate the indirect employment to be at around 92,000 more Filipinos [who] are also at risk of losing their jobs,” Salceda said.

I also agree with Rep. Salceda on this matter. The legitimate POGOs are a strong wave of economic relief not only for their employees but also to bring a promising financial future for the communities they are located in. Why would such an entity be succumbed to indiscriminate closure and be seen as sheerly negative because of an illegal few?

What’s your take on this dear readers? Comment below and we’d like to hear your thoughts on this. It also impacts us as well.

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