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Philippine lawmakers oppose POGO resumption

“The government should resolve its pending issues with the gaming industry before allowing POGO employees to work”

House Minority Leader and Manila Representative, Bienvenido Abante Jr.

House Minority Leader and Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. on Wednesday stated that the government must resolve issues  against the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs before allowing it to resume operations.

This follows the appeal made by a representative last Tuesday where he insisted on allowing POGO companies to resume operations amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The appeal stated that income and resources from these operations could help with the government's exhausted funds for the fight against COVID-19.

Abante said that only essential industries like food, manufacturing, and sales are exempted from the Enhance Community Quarantine or ECQ, and gambling, in all shapes and forms, is not.

"It is a vice, one that any country can do without, whether it be the Philippines or China," Abante said.

POGO companies employ a huge number of nationals from mainland China, with their clients being offshore gamblers.

The industry has been thriving, subsequently creating demands for other industries such as real estate, food, and transportation, to name a few. But the POGO industry has been under scrutiny for allegedly failing to pay P50 billion in total for license fees and income taxes.

Philippines Senator, Joel Villanueva.

Finance Secretary Carlos Domingues III said in a virtual meeting, that the country's economic managers would study the proposal for the resumption of POGO operations.

But Abante stated that this might send contradictory signals to the public if it would allow POGO employees to return to work while still on ECQ.

"Our countrymen will ask: 'Why are these foreigners being allowed to work while we cannot?'" the Manila lawmaker said.

Representative Abante is not the only one to oppose the resumption of POGO operations. Philippines senator Joel Villanueva is also opposing saying that POGO is a "high risk" sector as the workforce is largely comprised of mainland China nationals.

Senator Ralph Recto said that the appeal to resume may be considered on a work from home scenario, otherwise, it is non-essential.

Oriental Group's Kim Wong donated thousands of COVID-19 rapid test kits, personal protective equipment or PPE, and other equipment to address the scarcity of medical supplies for healthcare front liners in the country. These on top of the food donations made by the group.

The donations were received in tranches by different local government units, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Kim Wong's POGO operations runs heavily in Luzon particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces Pampanga and Cavite.

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