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Econ team yet to tackle POGO ban but gov’t prepping for impacts

MANILA: The economic team of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has yet to discuss the proposal to ban Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country, although steps are now being taken to cushion the possible impacts of its expulsion to the economy.

‘We haven’t really talked about it, at the level of the economic managers,’ Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a Palace briefing Tuesday.

Balisacan, the head of the administration’s economic team, has previously expressed support for the banning of POGOs in the country.

Although the revenue that the government has been receiving from POGOs may be big, Balisacan said the social costs of the industry are also ‘quite high,’ adding it puts the country in a bad light due to the illicit activities associated with it.

‘It may be a big number but the cost, particularly social cost of POGOs, [is] quite high. We’re trying to position our country as a legitimate place for business. We’re trying to attract investo
rs to come, tourists to come. So the least that we want is to have a reputation na nandito ‘yung mga kriminal (that we are a haven for criminals), things like that,’ Balisacan said.

‘The social cost [is very high]. The way we view it [at] NEDA, [it] may not be worth those revenues because if we succeed in generating those jobs anyway, we will get much more than those we lost,’ he added.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, meanwhile, said they are now taking steps to address the ‘negative effects’ of banning POGOs in the country, saying his department is now conducting a ‘profiling’ of workers in the industry.

‘Hindi ko masasabi na ready na kami pero pinaghahandaan namin. Ina-anticipate namin ang posibleng negative effect kaya that’s also the reason why nagpro-profile kami. We cannot actually wait for the day na sinabing close na, dapat nagta-transition na rin kami (I can’t say that we are ready, but we are preparing. We anticipate the possible negative effects, that’s also the reason why we do the profili
ng. We cannot actually wait for the day of its closure, we should be transitioning also),’ he said.

Calls for the banning of POGOs in the country have been raised after authorities launched a series of raids against illegal POGO hubs, where torture and kidnap victims and other criminal activities were also uncovered.

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said he will recommend to the President to stop POGO operations given the issues surrounding the industry.

Source: Philippines News Agency