Still no decision on proposed POGO hubs — Pernia

Czeriza Valencia - The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines — There is still no firm decision at the Cabinet level on whether to pursue the proposal to move Chinese offshore gaming workers to special hubs to limit interaction with locals, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

Asked abut how the rising anti-Chinese sentiment stoked by the spread of the novel coronavirus is influencing sentiment in the Cabinet about the proposal put forward by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) last year to establish special hubs for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) firms, Pernia said the consensus remains that these companies should pay the proper taxes and that they should be regulated.

Relocating them in hubs, however, is still not part of the discussions at the Cabinet level.

 “It was not discussed yet in the Cabinet,” he said in an interview on The Chiefs program on One News.

“(But the policy now is that) they will be regulated and they should be made to pay taxes,” he added.

PAGCOR last year proposed the establishment of “self-contained” communities for Chinese POGO workers to limit their interaction with local who have complained of “unruly behavior” on the part of these workers.

Such hubs are proposed to contain office and residential spaces as well as facilities for recreation and services. Relevant government offices will also be stationed in these hubs.

But the proposal drew strong opposition from the Chinese Embassy which said this would violate the rights of Chinese workers in the Philippines.

Pernia said that other than these considerations, other socioeconomic matters still have to be considered such as the rise of establishments catering solely to Chinese customers like restaurants.

 “It’s displacing some of citizens in terms of restaurants and places to go,” he said.

Likewise, the rise of property prices as a result of demand from Chinese workers.

“It’s also increasing the price of real estate,” he said, noting that if this continues, there will be a danger of a real estate bubble in the country.

“It’s possible, yes,” said Pernia.

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