MANILA – The Makati City government on Sunday declared an indefinite moratorium on the issuance of business licenses and permits to new service providers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) due to issues of rising criminality and prostitution.
"We would no longer accept new applications for POGO service providers and crack down hard against illegal activities that are catering to POGOs and their employees within Makati," Mayor Abby Binay said in a statement.
Makati is home to around 300 POGO firms that employ thousands of foreign workers many of whom are Chinese nationals.
The demand for housing and work stations for POGO workers is causing property rates in the city to spike. Binay said there was also an increase in illegal apartment rentals.
"These apartments are usually overcrowded with insufficient exits and faulty fire-alarm systems," she said.
Binay said this puts the local property sector at risk of overheating where growth becomes unsustainable.
The city, Binay said, welcomes legitimate businesses that strictly adhere to all laws and ordinances, particularly the payment of taxes.
She said city has earned more than P200 million per year in local business taxes from POGO service providers.
"We will always strive to provide these businesses and their employees with a safe environment conducive to business growth and personal activities," she added.
The city government closed down 4 illegal POGO service providers, 2 establishments used as prostitution dens, and 1 unsanitary restaurant and catering company in the last 2 months.
A P2.5 billion worth of illegal drugs were also seized from an apartment rented by a Chinese national.