By Raymund Antonio
The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo questioned on Sunday the partial resumption of Philippine offshore gaming operators or POGOs while the coronavirus crisis has yet to be resolved.
Vice Presidential spokesman and lawyer Barry Gutierrez said that POGOs have not been paying right taxes and are not considered “essential” industries.
“Ang tanong ko lang, bakit ito iyong kailangan nating unahin na buksan sa panahon na hindi pa naman natin nalalagpasan itong krisis?” he said on Robredo’s radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni.”
(May only question is why do we need to prioritize opening it at a time when we have yet to overcome this crisis?)
”Madami pa tayo kailangang gawin. Madami pang polisiya na dapat ipatupad para tuluyang matalo itong COVID-19,” Gutierrez added.
(We still have a lot of work to do. We still have to implement many policies to beat COVID-19.)
Robredo’s spokesperson explained that essential industries on food, gas, and medicines are allowed to operate during the enhanced community
quarantine, but not the POGOs.
Gutierrez could not help but think the offshore gaming operators are being given “special treatment.”
“Hindi mo ba tatawagin special treatment eh sarado lahat, tapos bibigyan mo ng authorization para magbukas kahit wala namang malinaw na batayan,” he said.
(Would you not call it a special treatment when everything is closed, then you’ll give it an authorization to open even without clear basis.)
According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the government stands to generate funds and jobs for Filipinos from POGOs to ease the impact of the pandemic.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the
POGO industry is classified as business process outsourcing (BPO) and thus is allowed to operate under the ECQ.
President Duterte has extended the ECQ in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and other high-risk areas until May 15 from the original April 30 deadline.
But Gutierrez argued POGOs are not part of the BPO industry and only employ Chinese nationals.
“Itong POGO sugal ito, online gambling. Hindi ko maintindihan ano priority doon. Mismo iyong asosasyon of BPO industry tinanggi ‘yung POGO ay BPO,” he said.
(This POGO is a form a gambling, online gambling. I don’t understand what’s the priority there. The association of the BPO industry itself denied that POGOs are BPOs.)
“Ano ang pakinabang ng pamahalaan sa panahon ng krisis sa isang industriya na hindi nagbibigay na nga ng trabaho sa ating kababayan at hindi pa nagbibigay ng tamang buwis?” he asked.
(What’s the benefit the government will get from an industry that doesn’t provide jobs to our countrymen and doesn’t pay proper taxes.)