Gatchalian doubts POGO operators will follow COVID-19 guidelines

Published May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario B. Casayuran

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday said trust is the issue surrounding the partial opening of the controversial operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) by Chinese businessmen.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

‘’How can we expect POGO operators to adhere to our health regulations if they don’t adhere to our tax laws, they don’t adhere to our immigration laws, they don’t adhere to our criminal laws. Reopening POGOs will unduly expose our Filipino workers to infection from coronavirus (COVID-19),’’ he said.

‘’If we are looking at the P7 billion annual income from POGO, this is measly to compared to the P2.5 trillion loss due to COVID-19 as estimated by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS),’’ he stressed.

‘’We cannot afford another lockdown due to re-emergence of the virus,’’ he added.

‘’Let’s focus our energies eliminating the spread of the virus rather than fighting fires the POGOs will eventually create,’’ he added.

In a related development, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said he hopes that the government has made a thorough evaluation of the risks and benefits that come with this latest move allowing the reopening of POGO.

“Given the residential arrangements which are dormitory type which gave rise to outbreaks in Singapore, there must be strict monitoring by the DOH (Department of Health) and DILG/LGUs (Department of Interior and Local Government/Local Government Units) of the health risks as I don’t expect PAGCOR to be equipped to do the checking,” he said.