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Palace defends reopening of POGOs amid ABS-CBN shutdown

Malacañang on Thursday addressed criticism that the government allowed the online gambling business to resume but ordered the closure of media giant ABS-CBN amid the COVID-19 crisis.

ABS-CBN went off the air on Tuesday after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) told the network to cease operations since its franchise had already expired.

This prompted some people, including opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan, to accuse the government of giving preferential treatment to the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) despite allegations that they have not been paying taxes.

However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque found no basis for comparison.

“Hindi po apples to apples ‘yan,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

He said the government earns P600 million a month from regulatory fees alone and P22 billion for the whole year due to POGOs.

Roque also said POGOs employ more than 30,000 Filipinos and the income derived from the partial resumption of POGOs would be used to fund government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation had also vowed to put premium on the safety of employees of POGOs by strictly implementing physical distancing, frequent hand washing and the mandatory use of face masks.—AOL, GMA News