MANILA – The temporary suspension of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators’ (POGOs) operations stays in areas that will be placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) beginning May 1, Malacañang said on Sunday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview with DZBB, said POGOs are included in the “negative list” which identifies the sectors that are still prohibited to operate while GCQ, or the so-called “new normal,” is imposed in select areas in the country.
“Hindi pa po dahil ‘yan po ay amusement at leisure kaya nasa negative list pa rin ‘yan kasama ng eskwelahan, yung mga pagsambang relihiyoso, mga industriya para sa mga bata, at tsaka turismo (They still can’t [operate] because these are considered amusement and leisure. They are included in the negative list which also bars the reopening of schools, places of worship, industries and tourism),” Roque said.
Select workers in non-essential services are allowed to go to work, once areas that have low or moderate risk for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections are placed under GCQ from May 1 to 15.
Beginning May 1, non-leisure shops in malls operating in low-risk or moderate-risk areas are likewise allowed to resume their operations.
Roque clarified that the reopening of POGOs is not allowed, despite the government’s intent to allow its operations amid the imposition of quarantine measures to augment the funding for the country’s Covid-19 response.
He also reminded POGO workers that they might face arrest when they violate the quarantine protocols imposed in the country.
“Meron po tayong Bayanihan To Heal as One Act na ‘pag nagsabi na ikaw ay lumabag sa isang palatuntunan dito sa panahon ng emergency na ito ay pwede kang maparusahan (We have Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which penalizes an individual who violate in this time of crisis),” Roque said.
Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act imposes a one-year imprisonment or a fine ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP1 million on quarantine violators.
Police on Friday arrested 44 Chinese nationals and nine Filipinos for allegedly continuing POGO operations in Parañaque City despite the implementation of enhanced community quarantine.
On April 23, Roque said Duterte is studying the proposal of Finance Secretary Dominguez III to allow the reopening of POGOs amid Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Dominguez earlier said revenues from POGOs could boost the national government’s funds to fight Covid-19.
There are currently 60 licensed POGOs in the Philippines.
The national government is targeting to collect PHP2 billion in taxes per month from POGOs.
In 2019, the national government collected PHP6.42 billion in taxes from POGOs and their service providers. (PNA)