POGO brings in more trouble than benefits

By Juan Antonio Fidel

THE government should seriously consider reassesing the pros and cons of having offshore gaming operations in the Philippines — and if it causes more trouble, it should cease to exist.

Taking cue from Senator Bong Go’s most recent stand, we have all the reason to kick hundreds of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the country.

Revenue wise, POGOs are not even amenable to complying to government-imposed regulations. In fact, no less than the Bureau of Internal Revenue admitted that POGOs owed the government no less than $50 billion in taxes.

And to think we’re spending on services ghat POGO executives and personnel are availing. What’s worse, they have been figuring out in quite a number of crimal incidents, and eating up government resources in responding to their SOS calls. What do we get in exchange? Just a loose change (barya).

Go seemed right all along. Perhaps it’s time for the go. Quoting Go in an interview shortly after attending the launch of the 153rd Malasakit Center in the country inside the Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga: “Kung hindi naman po gano’n kalaki ang kita ng POGO para sa gobyerno (at sa Pilipino)… at mas lalala ang (problema sa) peace and order natin, naghahasik ng lagim itong mga dayuhan, nakakabahala po — ‘yung sila mismo ang naghahari dito — mas mabuti pang i-ban na lang po.”

At a recent joint Senate hearing, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation provided a roadmap for addressing issues surrounding POGOs. PAGCOR said that the roadmap aims “to achieve the optimal number of licensees and increase the total POGO income gradually in the next five years, but with a more robust regulatory framework which will eliminate illegal online gambling operations and the social ills associated with it.”

PAGCOR has also committed to enhancing the coordination between itself and the other government agencies in an effort to address the social costs and ills linked to POGOs. To be perfectly candid about the issue, I recalled Go say something about POGOs.

According to him, POGO should return the favor to the Philippine government which allowed them to operate in the country. Unfortunately, POGOs, which have been raking in hundreds of billions monthly, transformed as conduit to human smuggling — and worse, they just wouldn’t pay what is due to the government.

The government to take a hard line against crimes and work to improve peace and order in the country and that would happen if we start eliminating undesirable aliens like them. I am one with Sen. Go when he said — “Mas importante sa akin ang peace and order at para sa ating mga kababayan na gusto lang pong mamuhay nang tahimik at hindi nasasaktan.”

My take: Dapat lang kalusin ang mga gumagago sa sambayanang Pilipino.

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