Anti-gambling advocate supports proposal for POGO ban

New voices have joined the debate about the future of POGOs.
New voices have joined the debate about the future of POGOs.

Manila 6th district representative Bienvenido Abante Jr has expressed his support for the proposal to ban POGOs in the Philippines.

The Philippines.- Manila 6th district representative and anti-gambling advocate Bienvenido Abante Jr has spoken in support of the proposal to ban POGOs in the Philippines. He said POGOs were “a public exhibition and confession of frustration over, and inability to properly address our pitiful national economic condition.”

He welcomed the joint statement from the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Makati Business Club (MBC), and Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF). He said this made it clear that businesses see the POGO industry as a liability, not an asset, in the country’s efforts to attract investments.

However, Pinoy sa POGO, a Filipino workers association, branded the business groups advocating for the closure of POGOs because as “elitists” and “anti-poor.” According to The Manila Bulletin, Karen Santa Cruz, an officers in the association, which represents over 23,000 Filipino workers, said the business leaders did not care about the poor.

Santa Cruz said the real social cost will be mass unemployment if the government shuts down POGOs and their service providers, which employ thousands of Filipinos as vendors, housekeepers, drivers, cooks, and more. She said the three business groups and the Department of Finance (DoF) mislead and discriminate against legitimate POGOs and service providers who pay taxes and royalties to the government.

The group expressed concerns about the welfare of its members and called on president Marcos to help Filipino POGO workers.

However, senator Risa Hontiveros told Abs-Cbn that half of the senate could vote in favour of the bill to ban POGOs. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has suggested that the Philippines could mitigate the impact of a ban on online gaming by growing the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Gatchalian noted that POGOs contribute PHP34.68bn a year to the country or 1 per cent of GDP. He said that while this contribution could be considered significant, the impact of a ban could be mitigated by attracting BPO companies, which could take up office space left by gaming operators.

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