Pogo ops resumption hinged on need for funds for COVID-19, says Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Government is keeping an open mind into the resumption of operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), if only to raise funds to help finance its response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday reiterated that operations of Pogos will remain shut in areas where a general community quarantine (GCQ) is being enforced, but admitted that funds are running low, and that government has to find ways to bankroll its amelioration program.
“Ang Pogos under GCQ guidelines ay mananatiling sarado. Gayunpaman, kung ang desisyon ay pabuksan ‘yan, ang tanging basehan lang po ay simple, kinakailangan natin ng pondo para magastos sa pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan. Yun lang po yan. Simple mathematics,” Roque said in an online press conference.
(Pogos under GCQ guidelines will remain closed. However, if there is a decision to open it, the only basis is simply because we need funds. That’s it. Simple mathematics.)
“Bagamat wala pang desisyon, napakadami nating pangangailangan…. Patuloy pa rin pong nangangailangan ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi naman po puwedeng mag-magic ang ating Presidente at lalabas ay pera para gastusin. Siyempre po dapat magkaroon ng pagkunan. At kung magkakaroon po ng desisyon sa Pogo — di ko naman po sinasabing meron na — eh alinsunod na po yan sa pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.
(While there is no decision yet on reopening of Pogos, it is a fact that our government needs funds to give further assistance to the public. The President cannot just produce money out of thin air. There has to be a source of fund. And if there would be a decision on Pogos’ reopening — I’m not saying there is one — it has to be in accordance with the needs of the public.)
Vice President Leni Robredo earlier questioned calls to allow Pogos to resume operations before Filipino businesses, saying it would send an ugly message to the public.
Pogos falls under the amusement and gaming industries, which were temporarily closed following the imposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to curb COVID-19. Only essential establishments, like those related to food, medicine, and healthcare, were exempted under the strict quarantine measure.
President Rodrigo Duterte has extended the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and several “high-risk” provinces until May 15 to contain the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, “low-risk” areas were placed under a general community quarantine starting May 1 where some restrictions will be relaxed.
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