Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Monday the government is looking into a proposal of reopening Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to help generate COVID-19 funds.
“The evaluation is ongoing,” Dominguez said. “But let me reiterate — all of the above depend on the results of the ongoing evaluation of the trade-offs involved in the decision of maintaining the current partial lockdown or tightening it or loosening it further.”
President Duterte’s chief economic manager, however, said he does not recommend lifting local and national liquor ban that is being pushed by the alcohol beverage industry.
As the guidelines of enhanced community quarantine, POGOs, and other establishments not related to providing essentials goods and services should be temporarily closed until the end of the lockdown.
Chair of the House appropriations committee and ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap requested to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to allow Pogos to resume their operations for tax purposes. Yap was also the former head of House games and amusements committee.
“In view of [exhausted] government coffers, the suspension of POGO operations should be lifted immediately to give our tax collection a much-needed boost,” Yap said in a statement.
“It will not harm us to have additional sources of revenue that we can use for our hungry countrymen. Lives are at stake, and we need to act fast,” said Yap, citing the government should maximize all the help it could get now.
Pagcor meanwhile, said the suspending POGO operation is a move to protect its employees from the respiratory disease and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Yap responded that Pagcor could make creative solutions to reopen the POGOs while protecting its employees and containing the virus spread.
The solon added Pagcor should create the guidelines on the dos and don’ts. He said it should be clear that employees could work from home if Pagcor accredits a POGO.
“I honestly believe that the ECQ won’t be totally lifted by April 30, and there may still be a need for us to support the people next month. Where will we get the fund?” he said.
“We need to find ways to boost the collection of taxes, but it should not be at the expense of public health,” the lawmaker said.