Partial resumption of POGO ops allowed in GCQ, ECQ zones: Palace

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

May 1, 2020, 12:48 pm

<p>Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque</p>

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

MANILA – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) now have the government’s consent to partially operate in areas that are placed under general enhanced community quarantine (GCQ) and enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Malacañang announced on Friday.

In an interview with dzMM, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chair Andrea Domingo has allowed 30 percent of POGOs’ workforce to report for work despite the threat posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.

“Kinakailangang magkaroon ng testing bago makapasok ‘yung 30 percent workforce na papasukin. Pero hayaan na ang Pagcor dahil sa kanila namang negosyo iyan. Alam naman po nila ang detalye kung ano ang kanilang papayagan (The 30 percent of POGOs’ workforce must undergo testing before reporting for work. Let Pagcor decide. They have the details),” he said.

Roque explained that Pagcor has given its nod to the partial resumption of POGOs’ operations since the online gaming industry is considered as business process outsourcing (BPO) firms that are allowed to operate during the implementation of ECQ and GCQ.

Under the government’s new guidelines, BPOs can operate in areas under ECQ and GCQ so long as they provide temporary accommodation and shuttle services for on-site workers.

Roque said POGOs, like BPOs, cater to a foreign audience since gambling is done outside the country.

“Ang pagkakaintindi ko, ang POGO ay hindi naman dito ang sugal. Ang sugal po niyan ay abroad. At ang ginagawa ng mga POGO centers para silang BPO talaga kasi nandito lang 'yung mga hardware at software (The way I understand it, the gambling in POGOs is not done here but abroad. POGO centers, like BPOs, only established their hardware and software here),” he said.

Roque’s latest statement came following his recent pronouncement that POGOs are on the “negative list”, which enumerates several sectors that are still prohibited from operating in areas placed under GCQ from May 1 to 15.

In a text message on Friday, he said the partial operation of POGOs is now allowed, subject to certain conditions.

“POGOs are allowed under ECQ and GCQ. And POGOs are part of BPOs. Thirty percent (of their) workforce (are) all subjected to Covid-19 tests, BIR clearance, Pagcor clearance. And proceeds of government collection (will) go to Covid-19 expenditures,” Roque said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said revenues from POGOs could augment the government’s funds to address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

There are 60 licensed POGOs in the Philippines. About 218 POGO service providers in the country have employed 108,914 foreign workers.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s target is to collect at least PHP2 billion a month from POGOs. (PNA)