Metro Manila — 25th of October, 2022. A gathering of business groups and stakeholders have gathered to issue a joint statement declaring their support for phasing out Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). The parties were comprised of the Makati Business Club (MBC), the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF).
Their statement points out, “We fully support the Department of Finance’s (DOF) 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.”
Seconding their announcement is the Department of Finance (DOF). They also have the same standing on the POGO phaseout. Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier was quoted as saying that POGOs have already been banned and prohibited by other countries citing China and Cambodia.
Further quotes from the business groups’ statement were, “The social and reputational costs of government sponsorship of operations that are globally frowned upon far outweigh any economic benefits.” This point was strengthened by the unified statement saying, “Conflicting mandates and the lure of corruption have rendered it and other involved government agencies incapable of effectively regulating POGOs.”
Backgrounder on POGOs cited by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) gave a vantage point on how the revenues from POGOs were trending in the past years. They pointed out that from January to August of this year revenues hit PHP 4.438 billion. This is a markedly higher result compared to the full year of 2021 totaling PHP 3.9 billion.
To have a more complete vantage point on what the government earned, the historical data showed that last year’s collection fell short of the PHP32.1 billion goal as declared by Republic Act 11590 or the POGO Law, signed by then President Rodrigo Duterte, September 2021.
The business groups weighed in on this matter and reiterated, “The total ban will only result in temporary economic stains, as opposed to the enduring socio-economic consequences and heavier disruption if we do not act now.”
They also underlined the Chinese government’s take on this as well, “The Chinese government has been quite categorical in its objections to POGO, which they characterized as harming not only China’s interest and China-Philippines relations but also hurt the interests of the Philippines.”
Earlier this month, Bayani Agabin, Finance Undersecretary, shared his optimism on POGOs getting completely phased out saying that the country can recover the potential losses from the exit of POGOs in other industries with high value-added.
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Contrasting Perspectives: Real Estate, POGO employees, and Rep. Joey Salceda
A different vantage point as well as a marked statement from real estate service firm, Leechiu Property Consultants stated that the country stands to lose over P100 billion should the POGO industry be forced out of the country.
A warning from the Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASAP) also voiced out that some 23,000 Filipinos will lose their jobs if POGOs are banned completely. They pointed out the repercussions of acting too swiftly to phase out POGOs. There are no solid plans on how to address the vast loss of income that will affect not just the families but communities in the area.
In a previous statement, Albay Second District Representative Joey Salceda said the problem was not the POGO industry itself but the bad eggs within the business — urging Philippine authorities to just use the full force of the law in going after kidnappers and other criminals.
There should be plans laid out for those directly affected if POGOs are going to be banned in the Philippines. I side with Salceda on this matter. The POGOs do have a positive effect on the families they employ as well as the communities they interact with. Illegal POGOs are the ones who need to be booted out for they badly spoil the best things that are happening with legal POGOs.
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