Palace says gov’t gets more benefits from POGO; ABS-CBN shutdown ‘not prelude to martial law’

Published May 7, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said the issue of the operations of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN and the controversial Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) are two different things, especially considering that the government attains more benefits from the latter.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque  (Jansen Romero/ MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque
(Jansen Romero/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement following criticisms that the government prefers POGOs over ABS-CBN which was ordered by the National Telecommunications to stop its operations earlier this week due to the expiration of its legislative franchise.

In a press briefing, Roque addressed concerns raised about the reopening of POGOs and the employment of 11,000 ABS-CBN workers amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Hindi po apples to apples ‘yan (That’s not apples to apples),” he said.

“Ang POGOs po ang kinikita natin diyan eh P600 million a month in regulatory fees alone, P22 billion a year in income, and P180 million in withheld income tax alone,” he added.

“Pero ang importante po ang kikitain natin sa POGO na mahigit isang bilyon kada buwan ay pupunta po lahat sa pagtugon sa COVID-19 (But what is important is that the more than a billion pesos that we will get from POGO monthly will go to our COVID-19 response efforts),” he continued.

When it comes to employment, Roque said 35,000 Filipinos are working in POGOs while only 11,000 are in ABS-CBN.

The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed the resumption of POGO entities under the enhanced and general community quarantine as the sector is supposedly part of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

According to Roque, everyone was welcome to question the decision of the NTC but rejected suggestions that the shutdown order was a prelude to martial law.

“Malaya naman po tayong kwestyunin ang desisyon na ‘yan but ultimately tanging ang NTC lang ang pwedeng magbigay ng desisyon at tanging mga hukuman lang ang pwedeng bumaliktad sa desisyon na ‘yan (We are free to question the decision but ultimately, only the NTC can render this decision and only the courts can overturn them),” he said.

“Bukas ang Kongreso, bukas po ang ating Supreme Court at ating ibang mga hukuman, bukas po ang mga media outlets. So sa tingin ko po malayong-malayo tayo sa sitwasyon ng martial law noong 1972 (The Congress, Supreme Court, lower courts, and other media outlets are all open. So I think the present situation is very different from the martial law in 1972),” he added.