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POGOs not an essential industry, not a priority for reopening —OVP


Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) should not be among the industries that will be prioritized for reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic since they do not offer essential services, Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman said Sunday.

In Robredo’s weekly radio show, Atty. Barry Gutierrez noted that POGOs owed the government some P50 billion in unpaid taxes, citing the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

“Hindi ba dapat tanungin natin kung ganiyan iyong isa sa mga industriyang bubuksan natin, anong magiging pakinabang natin diyan? Hindi nga nagbabayad ng buwis iyan, ang laki pa nga ng utang niyan, bakit mo uunahin?” he said.

Gutierrez also underscored that POGOs were not an essential industry unlike those involved in the production of food, medicine, or fuel.

“Kailangan lahat ng tao makakain pa rin, kailangan ang lahat ng tao mayroong gamot na makukuha, at siyempre kailangan ng lahat ng tao ng langis para umandar iyong mga pabrika at iyong mga sasakyan. Klaro naman iyan. So kung iyan ang uunahin, walang problema, ‘di ba? Iyan ay kinakailangan,” he said.

“Pero itong POGO, eh sugal ito, ‘di ba? Online gambling ito eh. Hindi ko maintindihan anong priority doon.”

The spokesman added that, unlike business processing outsourcing (BPO) companies, POGOs mainly employ Chinese nationals.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque earlier said that POGOs would be allowed to resume operations since they were considered as BPO firms.

However, an organization of information technology-business process management companies rejected the government’s classification of POGOs as BPOs.

“Mahalaga ang BPO sa atin dahil nagbibigay ng trabaho iyan sa mga Pilipino… So ibig sabihin, kung BPO iyan, kaya mo gustong i-prioritize dahil nabibigyan ng trabaho ang Pilipino. Pero ang POGO hindi nagbibigay ng trabaho sa Pilipino, hindi nagbabayad ng buwis,” Gutierrez said. — DVM, GMA News

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