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Why are POGOs being given privilege to re-open? — Robredo

(Philstar.com) – April 27, 2020 – 4:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo questioned Monday government proposals to re-open Philippine offshore gaming operators in the wake of countless Filipino businesses remaining closed amid the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the months leading up to the lockdown of Luzon, POGOs had been implicated in a litany of controversies which prompted their own Senate probes, ranging from links to sex trafficking, immigration bribery, identity theft, money laundering, kidnapping and even prostitution. 

READ: POGOs to resume ops post-lockdown amid task force meetings delay

Since then, the task force responsible for probing the largely Chinese-manned gaming operators has had to delay its meetings due to the enhanced community quarantine, which has since been extended to May 15 in high-risk areas including Metro Manila. 

Speaking in an interview with CNN Philippines, the vice president said, “We know that there is corruption, and the social costs on us are high because of the proliferation of POGOs.”

Earlier, 44 Chinese nationals along with nine Filipinos were arrested in a raid on an illegal POGO in Parañaque City.

The Department of Labor earlier said that POGOs were expected to resume their regular operations as soon as the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon were lifted.  

“It doesn’t sound like a good message that they’re the ones who are put first and allowed to open before businesses that employ Filipinos,” she said in Filipino. 

READ: Saying POGOs have become ‘beyond regulation,’ Drilon wants licenses revoked | ‘Women for order’: Hontiveros slams Chinese prostitution dens in POGO industry

“If we are restricting what is for the Filipinos, then why are they given the privilege of opening?” 

According to a December report by think tank Ibon Foundation, of the 87,054 POGO employees declared by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, only a measly 16.6% were Filipinos while 71.5% are Chinese.

The Palace earlier said that the government was still in the process of deliberating the pros brought on by the presence POGOs and whether these were enough reason to re-open them. 

But President Duterte has expressed apprehension towards the idea of banning the gaming operators altogether, pointing out the supposed benefits they brought to the country.

READ: Villanueva: Kidnapping incidents cancel out benefits from POGOs

“We need the money,” Malacañang said in an earlier statement. — Franco Luna

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