(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Manila City 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. on Friday urged fellow legislators and the Executive Department to heed the “growing clamor” from several sectors to ban and phase out Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country due to their operations’ adverse effects.

On Tuesday, the Foundation for Economic Freedom, Makati Business Club, and the Management Association of the Philippines released a joint statement that said they fully support "the Department of Finance's push to phase out all POGO operations" as the social and repetitional costs of government sponsorship of operations that are globally frowned upon far outweigh any economic benefits.

The three institutions noted that a total ban on POGOs "will only result in temporary economic strains, as opposed to the enduring socio-economic consequences and heavier disruption if we do not act now."

According to Abante, the public hearings on the POGO issue in both the House of Representatives and the Senate "have apparently opened the eyes of our business leaders to the pros and cons of the POGO industry."

"This joint statement makes it clear that Big Business believes the downsides of the POGO industry make it a liability – not an asset – in our country's efforts to attract investments, to boost confidence in the Philippine banking system, and to foster Philippine-China economic relations," he said.

The lawmaker, an anti-gambling advocate, is the author of House Bill 5082, or the Anti-POGO Act of 2022. Filed on September 21, the bill seeks to ban and prohibit POGO operations in the country.

The measure's explanatory note points out that "the continued operation of POGOs is a public exhibition and confession of frustration over, and inability to properly address our pitiful national economic condition."

“To argue that we need the revenues generated from POGOs (and PAGCOR for that matter) is to admit the helplessness of the national leadership and surrender in bended knees to the rule of the unarmed enemy of society called gambling,” a quote from the explanatory note read. (PNA)