Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday said that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) were not favored when the government allowed it to partially resume operations.
“Ang POGOs, wala pong favoritism diyan,” Roque said during the Laging Handa briefing.
The Palace official explained that the partial reopening of POGOs was anchored on “equal protection clause,” which provide that “all those similarly situated must be treated alike.”
Since POGOs are considered as business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, Roque said their operations should be allowed to resume under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ).
The government has earlier allowed BPOs to resume operations amid the implementation of the Luzon-wide ECQ last month.
“Dahil isang klaseng ng BPO ang POGO, kailangan silang mapabuksan,” he said.
The government has allowed the partial reopening of POGOs even amid the ECQ being implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided that only 30% of the total workforce will be allowed to report for work and they follow precautionary measures.
Roque also reiterated that POGOs which will be allowed to reopen are those that can settle their tax duties with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and paid pertinent regulatory fees with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“Nakasalalay sa BIR commissioner at PAGCOR... Kailangan may tax clearance, kailangan bayaran lahat ng kailangan sa PAGCOR,” he said.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said enforcing quarantine measures in POGOs could be a problem.
Senators Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian opposed the partial resumption of POGO operations.
However, the Accredited Service Providers Association of PAGCOR (ASPAP), a group of online gaming service providers for POGOs, said none of its Chinese workers had contracted COVID-19 due to the strict measures adopted by members.
Vice President Leni Robredo also opposed having POGOs resume operations, saying business and establishments with Filipino employees and owners should be allowed to open first. —KG, GMA News