Job creation: POGOs can’t replace BPOs
FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos (The Freeman) - July 22, 2019 - 12:00am

My piece on July 1, 2019 (Trade war:  Bad for the outsourcing industry?), elicited several actions. Particularly, on my emphasis on the possibility that the outsourced jobs of US companies in the Philippines might be brought back to their home country. 

That, therefore, obviously, this industry will certainly suffer. And that, considering the significance of its contribution, logically, the country’s economy will be badly hit. With these points clearly put forward, one of the reactors said that we shouldn’t worry at all because the POGOs can certainly replace them. 

For proper perspective, let me recall the premises from which I raised those points. To recall, I pointed out the political reality that President Trump’s victory in 2016 election could be attributed to his call during that year’s campaign to bring back jobs to the United States of America. That, therefore, he will, most likely, go for this initiative to lure back disillusioned supporters. Hence, the American-owned BPOs’ continuous stay in the country isn’t guaranteed. 

I further highlighted that this is an initiative where President Obama and President Trump agree. To recall, such idea of bringing back outsourced jobs to the USA was also President Obama’s campaign promise in his reelection bid in the 2012 Presidential Election. Remarkably, in early 2012, he enjoined American businessmen to invest in America at the White House "Insourcing American Jobs" Forum. Then, the forum focused on “the increasing trend of insourcing – where companies are bringing jobs back to the USA and making additional investments in America”. 

I further stressed that scarily, the London-based think tank Capital Economics said, lately, that the Philippines stands to be the biggest loser in Asia if US President Donald Trump pushes through with his threat to punish American firms outsourcing jobs. 

On the other hand, to those who may not be aware of it, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) conceptualized Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) to enable our government to take a lion share of the growing online gaming market. Previously unregulated, PAGCOR, in 2016, issued rules and regulations covering the operations of POGOs.

As PAGCOR puts it, “POGO refers to an entity that offers and participates in offshore gaming services by providing games to players, taking bets, and paying the winning players. The gaming activity refers to online games of chance through the internet, using a network and software, exclusively for offshore-authorized players who have registered and established an online gaming account with the PAGCOR-licensed POGO. Filipino citizens, even while overseas, are not allowed to play.”  PAGCOR emphasized too that it can “issue a POGO license to qualified operators, which could be Filipino-based operators or foreign-based operators.”

Clearly, in POGOs, we can easily single out, at least, two very significant features.  First, that it is not for Filipinos and that even those overseas cannot play.  Secondly, that even foreign-based operators can be issued license by PAGCOR. 

That the Filipinos cannot play, the potential Filipino workers are already at a disadvantage jobwise. Unless the POGOs target English speaking countries, there is no way that they will hire Filipinos on the operation side.

In fact, this predicament is now felt in the country. Are we not complaining about having so many Chinese working in the country today?  Most of them are working in POGOs. The reason is very simple and straightforward. That these POGOs’ target market are Chinese. So, who can easily interact with their market? Of course, the Chinese employees. That’s a no brainer.  Needless to say, therefore, most of their employees are Chinese. Palpably, their Filipino employees are just the back office support and janitors.  

There are those POGOs though that are providers of live contents like poker and baccarat. So, they have Filipino ladies who are card dealers. However, POGOs like these are just too few. In fact, some have already closed shop. What we have are mostly e-casinos and they are just using software for their games.

In contrast, some of the BPOs that we have right now only have one foreigner in their roster, just the country manager. The rest are Filipinos.

So, jobwise, will POGOs be able to replace BPOs?  Absolutely, the answer is a big NO.

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