EDITORIAL - Time to take a closer look at POGOs

The Freeman

As it is still a hot issue, we would like to continue from yesterday’s editorial about the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).

As mentioned, those 167 Chinese nationals deported came from a POGO hub in Bamban, Tarlac, that was also found to be operating an illegal hospital just for the POGO workers.

The fact that companies like these decide to hire illegal workers from abroad --who may be hesitant to approach  authorities here-- seems to suggest that they want people over whom they have total control and who have no choice but to do whatever they are told, including running internet scams, among others.

The fact that they wanted their own medical facility perhaps indicates that they don’t want the victims getting out of their sight for any medical emergency. Perhaps to also make sure they can’t ask for help from the police or anybody else if they are taken to a local hospital for whatever reason.

We have been saying for a long time that we should be looking at some POGOs as possible fronts for criminal activity including prostitution, kidnapping, and internet scams among others.

As if to underscore the kidnapping part, an Indonesian working here recently escaped from his captors in Silang, Cavite, after he was kidnapped last May 13.

Even in their legal form, POGOs do more harm than good. Well, yes, they do bring in some revenue, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., but only those who are legally registered. And how many are legally registered compared to those that aren’t? We aren’t even sure if those registered are paying the right amount of taxes.

And the price we have to pay for the convenience of gambling brought to our cellphones and other such devices? Digital addiction paired with another addiction: gambling. Two maladies brought on by one form of “convenience”.

We have also been saying for a long time that making gambling easier to access by many will result in people who can’t afford getting into debt racking up huge amounts of it. Not to mention the relationships, friendships, and families that will suffer for it.

So yes, it’s time to take another look if POGOs are worth it.

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