Bill filed to outlaw POGOs

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Bill filed to outlaw POGOs
Senator Win Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking to outlaw operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country amid mounting outcry for such a move as criminal activities linked to the industry continue to rise.
House of Representatives / Photo by Mark Cayabyab / OS WIN GATCHALIAN

MANILA, Philippines — A bill was filed in the Senate seeking to outrightly ban the operations of offshore gaming hubs following a series of raids on those involved in crimes.

“Republic Act No. 11590, otherwise known as ‘An Act Taxing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations… is hereby repealed,” Senate Bill 2689 filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian read.

Gatchalian said this would effectively ban POGOs by repealing the only law that legitimized the offshore gaming hub.

The bill was filed following inaction from Malacañang on the Senate’s recommendation to ban POGOs because of its involvement in human trafficking and scams and its minimal contribution to the economy.

“The main goal is ultimately to outlaw and prohibit offshore gaming operations in the country,” Gatchalian said.

In his bill, Gatchalian cited the raids on the following POGO hubs for criminal activities – Colorful and Leap Group in Clark Freeport Zone; Xinchuang Network Technology in Las Piñas; Smart Web Technology in Pasay and Zun Yuan Technology in Bamban, Tarlac, where its mayor, Alice Guo was allegedly involved in its operation.

The senator also cited the cost-benefit analysis of the Department of Finance in 2022 that POGO operations generated economic benefits worth P133.7 billion against P144.5 billion lost annually due to foregone potential investments and tourism revenues, with costs to enforcement and immigration.

This resulted in a net cost of P3.3 billion to P14 billion annually, equivalent to 0.01 percent to 0.06 percent of gross domestic product, respectively, Gatchalian added.

“This means that POGO operations have brought more harm than good, as the economic costs greatly outweigh the benefits derived from such operations,” Gatchalian said.

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