Palace: Regardless of what outsourcing industry group says, POGOs are BPOs
In this file photo from 2017, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque gives a press briefing.
Presidential Communications, File
Palace: Regardless of what outsourcing industry group says, POGOs are BPOs
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 4, 2020 - 5:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday insisted that Philippine offshore gaming operators are into business process outsourcing even if the umbrella group of the information technology and business process management industry has distanced itself from the gambling entities.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque previously said POGOs are now allowed to reopen even if some areas are under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) because they can be classified as BPOs.

The government has exempted BPO firms from quarantine restrictions but they are required to observe social distancing and health standards.

The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) has disassociated itself from POGOs, citing the differences between its industry and the mostly Chinese-operated gaming entities.

The group noted that BPOs are registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) or the Board of Investments while POGOs are registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

IBPAP also pointed out that BPOs come to the Philippines to leverage off human capital while majority of the POGOs' staffing comes from foreign labor brought into the country to support their operations.

Roque, however, insisted that POGOs can be considered BPOs because they render services for activities that are not taking place in the Philippines.

"It's not for them (IBPAP) to say that (POGOs are not BPOs) because we are following a definition of POGOs that are consistent with the guidelines, especially of those granting tax incentives," the Palace spokesman told GMA News on Monday.

"If you provide services for an activity that is not happening in our country, that's BPO... The BPO outsources to its service providers the IT (information technology), the computer requirements of its online gambling, which is not happening in the Philippines but is taking place abroad, in China," he added.

Online gambling not in list of BPOs

PEZA director general Charito Plaza previously said online gaming is not included in her agency's list of BPOs. She said BPO in the Philippines is classified into contact centers, back office services, data transcription, animation, software development, engineering development and game development.

Roque also responded to IBPAP's statement about POGOs employing foreign workers, saying the sector provided employment to about 31,500 Filipinos.

"Why are they employing a lot of foreigners? Because it was outsourced, it's a BPO. The language used in their computers is Chinese, Mandarin so no Filipinos can render such service because we do not know how to speak Mandarin," he said.

Roque said the P600 million per month in regulatory fees collected by PAGCOR and the taxes paid by POGOs would help fund the government's coronavirus response. He said the government is expected to collect P22 billion worth of taxes from POGOs in two years.

"My suggestion is all revenues from POGOs should be used...for the social amelioration program. Many of our countrymen who are suffering and who cannot work because of ECQ are waiting for this," he said.

Roque said it is the duty and privilege of the Senate to probe the operation of POGOs, which has been linked to illegal activities like money laundering, prostitution, bribery, and kidnapping.

"But the question is while there is no vaccine for COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), where will we get the aid to be given to our countrymen who cannot work?" he added.

BUSINESS PROCESS OUTSOURCING INDUSTRY HARRY ROQUE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS PROCESS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES
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