Senators on Tuesday urged the administration to help employees of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) find alternative jobs rather than continuing to allow the operation of these gambling enterprises.

They pointed out that the country stands to suffer enormous losses if these entities continue to operate.

The President of the Senate, Juan Miguel Zubiri, stated that the POGO employees who are about to lose their employment could be able to find work in the information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) industry due to their technical talents.

“Puwede naman natin hanapan itong mga kababayan natin ng trabaho ‘pag mabuhay muli ang tourism industry. Why don’t we concentrate on the BPO market instead? asked Zubiri as he was appearing on One News’s The Big Story.

Given the large number of different career opportunities in the IT and BPO industries, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian made the same suggestion.

“A significant number of them possess technical abilities, which indicates that they are employed in fields such as information technology or customer service; these occupations require technical expertise. I have a lot of faith that the BPO sector would be able to accommodate them. They have been trained with technical capabilities, which is one of the few positive things that have come out of POGO, said Gatchalian on One News’ The Chiefs.

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POGOs, which predominantly employ people from China and are linked to illegal activities like as human trafficking, prostitution, and corruption, are the target of legislative efforts to outlaw them permanently for these reasons.

There are 16,736 people working in licensed POGOs in the Philippines, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. According to what the Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASPAP) has to say, the organization has more than 23,000 members.

The spokesperson for ASPAP, Michael Danganan, voiced worry that the closure of legitimate online gaming companies may result in the loss of well-paying jobs for workers. It is said that ASPAP covers a total of 35 POGO licensees.

A spokesperson for ASPAP named Paul Bongco issued the following appeal to the government: “We hereby appeal to our government—President (Bongbong) Marcos and our senators in particular—not to look at the POGO sector as an enemy but rather as a friend in nation-building.”

According to the Department of Finance, as of the month of August, the POGO business had contributed a total of P4.4 billion in taxes. Senators, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the earnings can alternatively be gained from other industries.

Gatchalian stated that several offshore enterprises had already begun their transition into the underground, since a number of them had made the decision to forego the renewal of their licenses with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

According to Gatchalian, “The POGO industry is an unstable industry because to legislative changes from China, due to association to crimes and to organized crimes, and most crucially, due to the Chinese government tightening their crackdown on its own Chinese residents.”

During a meeting in 2019 with former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, brought up the issue of POGOs. However, the Philippines continued to permit their operations, with President Duterte praising the benefits that they brought to the economy.

Zubiri said that if the Philippine government does not crack down on POGOs, the nation will give the impression that it is “hosting, assisting, and abetting an unlawful activity in another country.”

“In terms of tourism and in terms of the opinion of the people, pagdating nitong mga sindikato operating within our shores, this will have a significant negative impact on our country if we go ahead and implement this policy. Baka sabihin hindi safe dito sa atin,” added Zubiri.

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