Government urged to be cautious in approving Pogos
CEBU CITY, Philippines—While Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) serve as a major market for the real estate industry, former finance secretary Roberto De Ocampo said that the government should be cautious in allowing more of these firms to come into the country.
“Right now, there are a lot of criticisms na parang open borders. I think there will be gradual higher regulatory input,” he said in an interview during his Cebu visit on Thursday.
In 2018, the Pogo sector registered P7.265 billion in revenues, twice the combined amount the sector contributed in 2016 and 2017.
A report by Colliers International showed that in Cebu, for example, Pogos or offshore gaming accounted for 45 percent of total office space transactions in the first quarter of 2019.
De Ocampo said that Pogos helped boost the country’s real estate industry. “It was a very important industry to come in because the real estate sector might have found itself in trouble for possible potential of overbuilding. The Pogo, in a sense, was their salvation,” he said.
But the former finance secretary warned against the national government relying on Pogos to boost the economy. “We’ve gotten to a point where we shouldn’t get into this mentality that this (Pogo) is going to last forever and (will be) growing in leaps and bounds and start buildings all over the place dedicated to Pogo.”
De Ocampo also recalled that the excess in the real estate in Thailand had started the Asian financial crisis.
On July 1997, the Thai baht collapsed, affecting currencies and equity markets in Southeast Asia and resulting in deep recession.
Even China, he said, have expressed concern over the Pogo operations.
Last week, the Chinese Embassy expressed concern over Pagcor’s plan to establish Pogo hubs saying that this might violate the rights of Chinese workers. The embassy asked the government to implement tighter regulations on the industry.
De Ocampo noted that it was good that China expressed their concern over Pogo operations here rather than just putting a stop to their operations.
At present, there are over 50 registered Pogos operating in the Philippines./dcb
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