MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday the Philippines would continue to host offshore gaming firms despite an appeal from China to halt such operations over alleged abuse of its nationals employed here.
The President said he reached this decision to “benefit the interest of my country.”
“I decide that we need it. Marami ang mawalan ng hanapbuhay (many will lose their jobs). Anyway it’s government-controlled,” he told reporters at Malacañang.
“At this time wala talaga ako magawa, marami ang nagugutom.” (My hands are tied. Many people are hungry.)
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) last month suspended the acceptance of applications for new POGOs or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations, saying some concerns needed to be addressed.
The suspension came after China appealed to the Philippine government to "punish" firms allegedly illegally recruiting its nationals, whom it said were victims of extortion, kidnapping, and torture.
Most POGO workers are from mainland China.
There are roughly 138,000 Chinese workers in the internet-based POGO business, according to the initial estimate of an inter-agency task force.
Pagcor said it has collected almost P4 billion from POGO operations this year while the target revenue for 2020 operations is between P9 billion and P10 billion.