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Business groups and stakeholders expressed their support for the phaseout of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), citing its “social and reputational” costs to the country.

In a joint statement, the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), the Makati Business Club (MBC), and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) cited the crimes supposedly associated with POGOs.

“We fully support the Department of Finance’s (DOF) push to phase out all POGO operations, and urge our legislators and the Executive Department to take all actions necessary to execute in an orderly way,” the statement read.

The Department of Finance (DOF) has shared a similar sentiment, with Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier saying the industry has already been disallowed in other countries such as China and Cambodia.

“The social and reputational costs of government sponsorship of operations that are globally frowned upon far outweigh any economic benefits,” the statement read.

“Conflicting mandates and the lure of corruption have rendered it and other involved government agencies incapable of effectively regulating POGOs,” it added.

Data from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) show that revenues from POGOs have hit P4.438 billion from January to August this year, higher than the P3.91 billion collected for the full year 2021.

Last year’s collection fell short of the P32.1-billion goal, in line with Republic Act 11590 or the POGO Law, signed in September 2021 by then-President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The total ban will only result in temporary economic stains, as opposed to the enduring socio-economic consequences and heavier disruption if we do not act now,” the business groups said.

“The Chinese government has been quite categorical in its objections to POGO, which they characterized as harming not only China’s interest and China-Philippines relations but also hurt the interests of the Philippines,” they added.

Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin earlier this month said the country can recover the potential losses from the exit of POGOs in other industries with high value added.