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IT-BPM industry rejects gov’t classification of POGOs as BPOs

The umbrella organization of information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) companies in the Philippines rejected the government’s classification of controversial Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) as a form of business process outsourcing (BPO).

“[As] far as the IT-BPM industry is concerned, Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs, as they are commonly called, cannot be considered as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO),” the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said.



The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier claimed that POGOs were considered BPOs since they catered to clients abroad, thus justifying government consent for the online gambling sector to resume partial operations amid quarantine measures being implemented to contain COVID-19 spread.

IBPAP took exception to this, however, as the group highlighted the “salient differences” between the two industries.

“BPO companies are registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments (BOI), while POGOs are registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR),” the association pointed out.

The IT-BPM industry also emphasized that while BPOs and POGOs share one extraneous similarity, which is their offshoring nature, “POGOs primarily do so because they are allegedly unable to practice their betting or gambling functions in their respective shores.”

“It is also worth noting that the IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills,” said IBPAP.

“This is also very different from the work done by the game development sector which is sometimes mistaken as having similarities due to the gaming notion,” they added.

The industry group stressed that BPOs came to the Philippines to leverage the country's human capital, such as the Filipinos’ strong English and technical skills, customer service orientation, “malasakit,” and ability to adapt to foreign cultures.

“This, in turn, has directly benefited millions of Filipinos by providing them with better employment opportunities throughout the years,” IBPAP said.

In the case of POGOs, meanwhile, the group said that “majority of their staffing comes from foreign labor brought into the country to support their operations.”

The PAGCOR said that there were around 90,000 Chinese nationals in the POGO industry and most of them were in the BPO work who answer gaming-related calls, while 31,000 Filipinos are part of the sector.

IBPAP stressed that POGOs are also not part of the annual IT-BPO headcount and revenue report.

In 2019, the group said that the IT-BPM industry recorded 1.3 million direct employees and $26.3 billion in revenues. — DVM, GMA News