Zarate hints of political pressure in Pogos reopening amid COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — Was there “strong pressure” from political backers of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) behind their resumption of operations amid the quarantine being enforced to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic?
Bayan Muna representative and House Minority Leader Carlos Zarate raised this question on Saturday after the government allowed Pogos to partially operate despite the enforced quarantine.
“Gambling is not a basic service and is, in fact, an anti-social activity that corrupts the moral fiber of our country,” Zarate said in a statement.
“So, was there a very strong pressure to reopen them that the [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] IATF acceded to their request? Are the political backers of POGOs so strong that they can even skirt COVID-19 pandemic regulations?” he added.
On Friday, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Andrea Domingo said that Pogos will partially operate, with only 30 percent of its manpower being allowed to report for work.
Domingo said Pogos were allowed to operate as they are considered as business processing output (BPO) companies.
Previously, Pogo operations were suspended in March following the enforcement of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Zarate, speaking for Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc, said Pogos should be closed “with or without a pandemic.”
“There are security concerns raised against Pogos that are still very much valid because these hubs can be used for the expansionist military and political purposes of a foreign country, like China,” the House Minority Leader said.
“But, another compelling reason for its continued closure and even total ban is that these Pogos may become potential centers for COVID-19 spread and transmission to others,” he added.
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