The IBON Foundation, a non-profit educational and advocacy group, has declared that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) are “not an essential sector” and reopening them after the Covid-19 closures should not be a government priority.
According to this group, POGOs “generate minimal income and employment for the country, contrary to the government’s claim that it is an essential sector, and should be partially reopened… the insistence on reopening POGOs appears to be yet another example of partiality towards China.”
Making a financial argument, IBON asserted that “according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), it has collected only around P6.4 billion from POGOs in 2019, which is not even one-fourth of one percent (0.23 percent) of the P2.8 trillion in total tax revenues for the year. The government is not even able to collect the expected P50 billion in taxes from offshore gaming operators.”
They added that POGOs “contributed little to the country’s employment because they employ mostly Chinese citizens. January 2020 data from PAGCOR show that more than half, or 57.3 percent, of the 188,239 POGO employees are Chinese citizens and 25 percent from other nationalities; only 17.7 percent are Filipinos.”
Continuing, the statement asserted, “PAGCOR has also been touting that POGOs had driven P25 billion in real estate profits through office space leasing. Its own data however reveal that POGOs are mainly leasing office space in buildings owned by top Philippine oligarchs.”