NEDA supports permanent ban on POGOs

NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan holds a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday, 21 September. (Photo courtesy: Presidential Communications Office)
NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan holds a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday, 21 September. (Photo courtesy: Presidential Communications Office)

The National Economic and Development Authority has expressed its support for a permanent ban on Philippine offshore gaming operators in the country, citing the high social cost of these businesses.

During the Malacañang Press Briefing on Thursday, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the cost of POGOs to society, including the alleged crimes and related issues associated with them, outweigh the benefits they bring in terms of revenue and economic impact.

"We don't think that the benefits in terms of the revenues generated and the additional — and the impact and the economy are worth the cost," Balisacan said.

He added that NEDA is encouraging "very legitimate investments, good investments, quality investments and those investments that will produce goods and services and not ones that promote negative externalities to society."

Balisacan also said that NEDA is not marketing the Philippines as a destination for POGO businesses.

"We have been moving around in many countries, cities attracting investments to the country, marketing our country as a good place to do business. We are not going around to attract business of this kind," Balisacan said.

Balisacan expressed optimism that new investments can replace the revenue lost from the closure of POGOs.

"Yeah, I think we do. Look at Thailand. Look at Indonesia. All these other countries around us don't depend on those kinds of businesses," he said.

Balisacan clarified that his position on POGOs is not necessarily that of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., but that it is NEDA's.

"No, this is our position that we expressed (that)," he said.

He added that he would personally recommend to the President to ban POGO in their next NEDA Board meeting soon.

Earlier this week, ten Senators called for the total closure of POGOs within three months due to a lack of economic contribution.

A 120-page report on Tuesday mentioned that the Philippine economy will continue to thrive even without POGOs.

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means obtained approximately ten signatures, achieving a majority, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, a prominent critic of POGOs, led the endorsement of the report.

"The impact (of POGOs) on our economy is not that big if they leave. We have seen that they contribute less than 1 percent (of our gross domestic product)," Gatchalian said.

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