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SoNA 2020

PAGCOR lends hand to pandemic effort

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THE income generated from legal gaming operations are put to good use by financing relief efforts to thousands of Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 crisis. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF PAGCOR‘S FB

Like many businesses and economies reeling from the pandemic-induced downturn, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has not been spared from revenue losses.

On the average, Pagcor lost P5 billion to P6 billion a month during the enhanced community quarantine imposed in Metro Manila and other major cities nationwide.

Despite these losses, Pagcor has not hesitated to respond to the needs of Filipinos, especially frontliners who risk their lives in the battle against the virus.

“We still do our best to reach out to communities which do not have access to basic needs. They deserve all the help that we can give,” Andrea Domingo, Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer, said.

Here’s how Pagcor helped augment the government’s revenue generation efforts to cushion the economic impact of the crisis.

Dividends remittances

The agency’s total dividend contribution for 2019 is P17 billion, which is mainly in support of the government’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pagcor remains as the third highest contributor of cash dividends for 2019 among the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC), next to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp.

The release of cash dividends is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 11469, otherwise known as Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and RA 7656, which requires GOCC to “share a substantial amount of their net earnings to the National Government” for revenue generation purposes.

The additional dividends remittance was taken from Pagcor’s 2019 net earnings and accumulated retained earnings in 2018.

Apart from the cash dividends, Pagcor has initially released a total of P14.5 billion to the Socio-Civic Projects Fund of the Office of the President (OP) from March to April 2020.

On 24 March, Pagcor turned over P6 billion to OP, in addition to the P2 billion and P500 million remittances that were released on 11 March and 1 March, respectively.

According to Domingo, Pagcor’s remittances to OP are intended for various funding requirements relative to Proclamation 922, “Declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the entire Philippines.”

Food packs, PPE

Pagcor distributed essential gear to several public hospitals.

The agency turned over N95 masks, face shields and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Rizal Medical Center, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Tondo Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center (PHC) and Philippine General Hospital (PGH). The PPE were donated by various Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

The state-run gaming firm also delivered over 47,000 POGO-donated food packs to communities in the National Capital Region (NCR), Benguet, Bulacan, Pampanga and Tarlac, which direly need assistance due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

Pagcor also delivered over 2,000 relief packs to the residents of the cities of San Pedro and San Pablo in Laguna, who were among those affected by enhanced community quarantine restrictions implemented by the government.

Meanwhile, Pagcor licensees donated food packs, PPE and other medical essentials to frontliners, hospitals and communities in NCR and some parts of Luzon. The charitable arms of casino licensees have, likewise, extended direct assistance for the government’s fight against the pandemic.

Case in point, Resorts World Philippines Cultural Heritage Foundation Inc. (RWPCHFI), which completed its P50 million commitment to aid the government’s COVID-19 relief efforts. RWPCHFI distributed medical supplies to representatives of 12 Metro Manila hospitals, in coordination with Pagcor.

Beneficiary-hospitals include the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), PGH, Lung Center, Las Piñas General Hospital, San Lorenzo Ruiz General Hospital, Valenzuela Medical Center, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Rizal Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center. The Foundation also turned over 200 infrared thermometers to the National Capital Region Police Office.

RWPCHFI also worked closely with Suncity Group’s Philippine subsidiary, SunTrust Home Developers Inc., and Pagcor to augment the COVID-19 efforts in the country. The Suncity Group donated P50 million worth of PPE for 40 public hospitals in Luzon.

Meanwhile, Solaire Resort’s Bloomberry Cultural Foundation Inc. (BCFI) donated a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, a device used for COVID-19 testing, to the Lung Center. It has also procured PPE, ventilators, rapid test kits, more PCR machines, medical equipment and other essential supplies for donation to hospitals.

Likewise, BCFI retrofitted the Ninoy Aquino Stadium and Rizal Memorial Stadium, which are serving as quarantine and treatment facilities for COVID-19 patients. BCFI also procured P100 million worth of essential goods for distribution to indigent Filipino families.

Melco Resorts (Philippines) Foundation Corp., the charitable arm of City of Dreams Manila, also procured 125,000 food packs worth P50 million. The donation consists of 625,000 kilos of rice, 500,000 pieces of bottled water, 500,000 cup noodles, 500,000 cans of sardines and 250,000 cans of tuna.

Heeding the request for further assistance, the foundation donated an additional P100 million worth of food packs for distribution to vulnerable and indigent families.

The Okada Foundation Inc. also directly donated P25 million each to the PHC and Lung Center. The hospitals will use the donation to procure necessary machines, equipment and medical supplies. In addition, Okada Foundation Inc. pledged to donate P100 million worth of relief goods for distribution to indigent families.

FBM, an international gaming firm, donated P20 million to four public hospitals in Metro Manila.

FBM, which is involved in video bingos, spin reel games, table games and video poker, donated via money transfer P5 million each to the PGH, NKTI, Lung Center and RITM. Recipient hospitals will use the cash to purchase medical equipment that are necessary to combat the pandemic.

POGO: a boon in crisis

The revenues from POGO as a significant source of funds supplement efforts to curb the health crisis.

From P73.72 million in 2016, revenues from POGO significantly increased to P3.12 billion in 2017; P6.11 billion in 2018; and P5.73 billion in 2019. In the first quarter of 2020, POGO already contributed P1.80 billion in regulatory fees alone. Further, from 2016 to March 2020, Pagcor has already collected a total of P20.83 billion from POGO in regulatory and other related fees.

These remittances form part of Pagcor’s contributions to the National Treasury and other mandated beneficiaries, one of which is the Universal Health Care Law, whose funding will be partly sourced from the revenues of Pagcor.

With its decision to resume POGO operations, the agency also seeks to preserve the employment of 31,556 Filipinos who were directly hired by the industry. Likewise, partial opening of POGO will create ripples in economic activity, such as the real estate industry, which has earned approximately P25 billion on leaseholds and rentals alone, as POGO occupy 1,000,000-square-meter of office space.

Pagcor allowed the reopening of POGO operations under the Information and Communication Technology-Business Process Outsourcing (ICT-BPO) exemption. Businesses classified under ICT-BPO are those that are involved in non-primary business and functions, which are allowed to operate under the existing community quarantine rule.

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