Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says critics are wrong in comparing the closure of ABS-CBN Corp. with the reopening of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).
Roque claims POGOs have a bigger contribution to the economy than the Lopez-owned media company.
“Naku! Hindi po apples to apples iyan, ang POGOs po, ang kinikita natin diyan eh six hundred million a month in regulatory fees alone, 22 billion pesos a year in income and 170 million in withheld income tax alone. And of course, in terms of employment, 35,000 po ang Filipino na nag-eempleyo diyan sa mga POGOs,” said Roque in a briefing.
“Pero ang importante po iyong kikitain natin sa POGO na mahigit isang bilyon kada buwan ay pupunta po lahat sa COVID-19,” he added. ABS-CBN, which was shut down last May 5, has 11,000 regular and contractual employees and claimed that it has paid a total of ₱70.5 billion in taxes to the government in 17 years.
Critics blasted the government for allowing POGOs to operate while keeping all casinos and lotto games closed during the lockdown. The Inter-Agency Task Force has classified POGOs as business process outsourcing providers that were allowed to operate at 30 percent of capacity during the enhanced community quarantine.
They noted that this special preference for POGOs contrasted sharply to the government’s move to shutter ABS-CBN.