MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Philippines will allow POGOs or offshore gaming firms to resume operations during the virus lockdown since they are considered business process outsourcing, the industry regulator said Friday.
The country's coronavirus task force allowed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, mostly based in Metro Manila, to re-open with up to 30 percent of their workforce after fulfilling requirements, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp Chairman Andrea Domingo said.
"Na-notify lang kami kahapon na na-approve na nga, i-coconsider ang POGOs as BPOs... Dahil sa dami naming requirements, siguro it will take them another week bago pa sila makapag simula," she said.
(We were informed yesterday that it was approved, that POGOs will be considered as BPOs. But because of the requirements, it could take them another week to start)
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the development, saying POGOs are BPOs.
“Ang BPOs po ay ina-allow at ang POGO po talaga ay isang BPO,” Roque said.
(BPOs are allowed and POGOs are BPOs)
The POGOs will be notified of the requirements on May 4, she said. Only registered workers and those who will be cleared in COVID-19 rapid tests will be allowed to go to work, she said.
Operators were ordered to pay all tax obligations up to March 2020, before they will be allowed to operate, Domingo said. Some 31,600 Filipino direct employees also need to be paid from April even though work was suspended due to the lockdown, she said.
Operators were ordered to pay a "guarantee fee" of P300 to P350 million a month to aid the government's pandemic war chest, Domingo said.
By June or July, Domingo said POGOs may pay up to P500 million, adding that by the end of the year, operators might be paying up to P650 million.
"Marami din mapapakain yun na mahirap eh. Kaya madami din yun matutulungan," she told radio DZMM.
(They can feed lots of indigent people. That's why they can help a lot.)
Offices will be required to have isolation rooms. Task force members should be allowed to inspect their facilities. Social distancing and wearing of face masks will be required, she said.
The lockdown in Metro Manila and other high risk areas was extended up to May 15, wherein only essential services could operate.
There are over 60 POGO license holders and over 200 service providers in the country.