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Resumption of POGOs eyed to boost state funds for COVID-19 response

The government is looking at the possible resumption of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators’ (POGO) operations in a bid to boost the state’s needed funds for COVID-19 response.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chairman Andrea Domingo told GMA News Online she has written President Rodrigo Duterte recommending the resumption of POGOs “provided that all health protocols such as social distancing, wearing of masks, frequent and proper hand washing are observed.”

This after ACT-CIS Representative Eric Go Yap, chair of the House committee on Appropriations, called for the lifting of the suspension of POGO operations to “give our tax collection a much-needed boost.”

In March, the PAGCOR ordered temporary suspension of POGO and its service providers after the issuance of guidelines banning the online gambling amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. 

Sought to comment on proposals to allow POGOs to resume operations, 
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, in a text message, said that he “will refer to the IATF,” referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In a media briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that while the matter has not been discussed yet “ang pagbubukas ng POGO bahagi po ‘yan sa suma total na dapat pagdesisyonan ng Presidente...”

“May mga industriya na dapat buksan —industriya na low-risk sa population pero high-impact to the economy. Ang POGO kabahagi po ‘yan ng industriya na nagbibigay ng cash resource sa ating pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng buwis,” Roque said.

The presidential spokesperson said POGOs may resume operations provided that social distancing or work-from-home measures are observed.

Domingo said the POGO industry has remitted more than P20 billion since it began in 2019.

In 2019, the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P6.42 billion in taxes from POGOs. —KG, GMA News