No POGO shutdown: Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte has no plan of ordering the closure of all Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the country amid several controversies plaguing the online gaming industry, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Duterte backed the continued operation of POGOs because the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) gave him a “good” report about the economic benefits from the offshore gaming firms’ transactions, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

“Ganoon pa rin (His position remains the same). He will not suspend it nor will stop it. Ang sabi niya sa akin kahapon, maganda ‘yung report ni Pagcor. Maganda daw ‘yung report sa kanya. So okay (He told me yesterday that he received a good report from Pagcor. He said the report was good. So he’s okay with POGO operations),” Panelo told dzIQ.

Duterte made the stance despite calls aired by some senators to declare POGOs “illegal” due to money laundering, crimes, and other suspicious activities associated with POGOs.

Amid issues surrounding POGOs, Pagcor has reported that the government was able to collect roughly PHP7 billion from fees and licenses from the offshore gaming companies.

Panelo maintained that the funds collected from POGOs could be used by the government to address the outbreak of 2019 coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country and raise the monthly salary of nurses and teachers.

He added that the government can use the tax collections from POGOs “in any undertaking.”

“Kailangan talaga natin ‘yung pondo na galing doon. Marami tayong projects na kailangan natin ng pondo (We really need a fund from collections from POGOs. We need funds for our projects),” he said.

Panelo said the government can implement stricter rules and regulations to avoid repeat of problems caused by POGOs.

“‘Yung mga problema diyan sa operation, iyan eh magagawan ng paraan iyan (The problems linked to POGO operations can be solved). All you have to do is to implement, establish rules and regulations,” he said.

Around 60 licensed POGOs are still operating in the country.

However, there have been persistent calls for Duterte to stop the operation of POGOs due to supposed proliferation of crimes in the country linked to the online gaming industry.

The government has already imposed a moratorium on new licenses for POGOs, following the issues besetting the offshore gaming firms. PNA.GOV.PH