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PAGCOR chief: Immediate closure of POGOs would affect many sectors

For Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco, abrupt closure of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) would affect many sectors.

"Sa akin po naman eh hindi po basta bigla-bigla nating puwedeng isara dahil sa aking paniwala marami pong maapektuhan," Tengco said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB.

"Alam naman po ninyo yung pinagdadaanan natin ngayon hindi lang sa Pilipinas, kundi sa buong mundo, talaga namang dahil lang sa krisis sa laban ng Ukraine at Russia, apektado po talaga ang ekonomiya ng buong mundo lalung-lalo na po dito sa atin," he added.

(For me, we should not immediately close POGOs because many would be affected. The whole world is in a crisis because of the Ukraine-Russia war and that affects all economies, especially ours.)

Tengco made the remark when asked about PAGCOR's position on POGOs, considering that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. himself said that its operations might no longer be worth allowing if their conducts bring social cost to the country.

"Maselan pong usapan talaga yan [That's a sensitive issue] because in any matter, there will always be two sides of the coin. For us, there are... close to 24,000 to 25,000 Filipinos employees employed in the industry...[sa] mga licensed overseas gaming company," he said.

Apart from this, Tengco said these licensed POGOs, like the other industries, are expected to generate more revenues compared to the previous years when all industries were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, Tengco said almost 10% of PAGCOR's collections are from POGO licenses.

In 2022, Tengco said the POGO industry has given PAGCOR around P3 billion in revenues, excluding the taxes being paid by the industry to the local government units and to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Last year, the Chinese Embassy said the crimes associated with POGOs not only harm China's interests but also the Philippines'.

The Embassy also stressed that the "social costs of POGO far outweigh its economic benefits to the Philippines in the long run and POGO should be tackled from the root so as to address the social ills in a sweeping manner."

The Chinese government has been pursuing a crackdown on POGO workers.

In September 2022, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the country should do away with POGOs, citing what he described as social and reputational risks.  —KBK, GMA Integrated News