POGO ban to trigger 'worse' social costs, says lawmaker
MANILA — Banning Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs will spawn "worse" social costs for the country, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
Albay Second District Rep. Joey Salceda argued that instead of shutting down offshore gaming services, there should be an "orderly and systematic" approach to the industry.
"The social cost will be worse if you ban POGO. You will drive down an entire industry that you cannot prevent because the future is digital," he told ANC's "Headstart".
He made the remark following calls to ban POGOs due to alleged criminal activities linked to the Chinese gambling operations in the country.
But the lawmaker warned of more crimes such as kidnapping and prostitution if POGO firms are shut down as it would create an entire underground sector.
Closing down POGOs will also displace some 70,0002 direct jobs for Filipinos, he added.
Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee of the House of Representatives, also said the country would lose billions of rental income from offices as POGOs occupy some 1.1 million square meters of office space.
He proposed of keeping POGO operations within specific zones.
At least 175 POGO firms have been ordered shut down due to their alleged involvement in certain crimes, the Department of Justice has said.
The DOJ also disclosed there were some 40,000 illegal Chinese workers employed by overseas gaming operators in the country.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno meanwhile recently said he was in favor of discontinuing offshore gaming operations after total revenue in 2021 declined to P3.9 billion from its peak of P7.2 billion in 2020.
POGOs pose a risk for the country's reputation, he added.