DOF chief: No objection to banning POGOs

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
DOF chief: No objection to banning POGOs
“Today, there are a lot of POGOs that are not really POGOs because they are doing something else. But we generalize and call all of them POGOs,” he said. 
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Finance Secretary Ralph Recto is not opposing the calls to ban Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms as the sector gets the spotlight anew because of embattled Bamban Mayor Alice Guo.

“I have no objection to that,” Recto told reporters on the sidelines of the site inspection of the LRT-1 Cavite Extension yesterday.

“Today, there are a lot of POGOs that are not really POGOs because they are doing something else. But we generalize and call all of them POGOs,” he said. 

Senators recently resumed their calls for President Marcos to ban POGOs amid the industry’s threat to national security and ties to organized crime.

This also came after the case of POGO firm Zun Yuan Technology in Bamban, Tarlac which was raided and eventually linked to Guo after her name appeared in the local permit application and electricity bills paid for the POGO.

Citing as an example his bailiwick, Recto said there are no POGOs in Batangas. 

“And I think we’re doing very well at that,” he said. 

The finance chief likewise agreed that the social costs of POGOs outweigh the minimal contribution of their continued operation. 

“There is some truth to that so let us study it carefully. I also have to consult with PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.), but as I said, in Batangas there are no POGOs and we are doing well,” Recto said. 

Asked whether he will make a recommendation to Marcos on the ban, Recto said he will “make the advice at the appropriate time.”

The Department of Finance taking a stand against POGO is not something new, as former finance chief Benjamin Diokno also stood firm in his proposal to ban the industry. 

It was estimated that the industry’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) continued to be negligible and remained at around 0.2 percent last year.

This is slightly below the 0.3 percent in 2022 and is a further decline from the 0.7 percent contribution to GDP during the POGO peak in 2019. 

The DOF earlier said that the social ills associated with POGOs lead to high reputational risks which can severely affect the country’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investments. 

PAGCOR, on the other hand, disagreed with the ban on POGOs in the country, saying that shutting down the industry is not the appropriate response to the challenges of the sector.

Instead, PAGCOR advocated for proper regulation through intensive monitoring and better interagency coordination and data sharing.

PAGCOR has initiated some regulatory reforms to enhance POGO regulation such as increasing the capitalization requirements for license applicants.

Last year, it increased the authorized capital stock requirement to P100 million from at least P15 million before in a bid to weed out fly-by-night companies which pose as legal POGOs and then conduct illegal activities on the side.

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