By Leslie Ann Aquino
Church officials have lamented the government’s decision to allow the resumption of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operations while religious services remain banned.
“POGOs are allowed. Public Masses are not, even in General Community Quarantine areas,” Father Melvin Castro said in a Facebook post.
“Senators, lawmakers, and LGUs claim virus will spread via gatherings in religious services,” he added.
Ozamis Archbishop Martin Jumoad also echoed the same sentiment.
“Why allow the reopening of POGOs?From the Philippines being the only Christian nation in the Far East, to being the gambling capital in the Far East,” he told church-run Radio Veritas.
“I challenge the government leaders to change their position because that will lead our countrymen to the brink of death,” he added.
The Inter-Agency Task Force earlier allowed the partial operation of POGOs citing that they are an essential industry and considered Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).
Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, meanwhile,assailed Malacanang’s insistence that POGO is an “essential industry.”
“POGOs are not essential both in terms of people’s needs and its contribution to economy,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer ‘Ka Bong’ Labog in a statement.
“It insists on allowing POGO operations because it favors dealing with Chinese business over the nation’s economy and people’s welfare. Where is the Filipino people’s interest in this? Do they insist on running POGOs because they stand to benefit from its operations?” he added.
KMU warned that the “clandestine” operations of POGOs pose threat to the country’s health as people are “kept in the dark” in the entry of foreign nationals as POGO workers.
“First, Duterte did not ban travel from China; then, even with a state of public health emergency, it allows operations of POGOs whose employees are mostly foreign nationals. We do not even know how many foreign nationals came in through our borders only to be employed in these POGOs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Labog.