The Chinese Embassy in Manila asked the government to ban Philippine offshore gaming operations over their alleged negative impact on the economy.
China Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said many countries had banned online offshore gaming after having “learned their lessons the hard way”.
“We have been working closely with Philippine government agencies to crack down on illegal POGO. We hope that the negative impacts of POGO will be fully realized by people and by authorities in this country,” Xilian said Tuesday at the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City.
He said China banned offshore gaming operators and urged the Philippines to do the same because of economic and social repercussions.
“POGO is illegal for any Chinese citizens not only at home, but also overseas,” Xilian said.
Business and public advocacy groups also expressed full support for the phase-out of POGOs.
The Foundation for Economic Freedom, the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines said in a joint statement the social and reputational costs of government sponsorship of offshore gaming operations far outweighed any economic benefits.
The groups said conflicting mandates and the lure of corruption rendered government agencies incapable of effectively regulating POGOs.
POGO operations in the Philippines were associated with crimes such as money laundering, kidnapping, bribery, prostitution, human and drug trafficking that impacted law and order and the Philippine reputation, they said.
“The taint of money laundering diminishes confidence in our banking system and puts legitimate financial flows, including from OFWs, at risk from sanctions of international oversight bodies,” the groups said.
The groups also called on the government to sustain the country’s connectivity to international banking and protect business and OFW communities who depend on it on the financial sector.
A total ban on POGOs will result only in temporary economic strains, as opposed to the enduring socio-economic consequences and heavier disruption, they said.
“We fully support the Department of Finance’s push to phase out all POGO operations, and urge our legislators and the executive department to take all actions necessary to execute in an orderly way,” the groups said.
The Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. and the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce had also supported the call to ban POGOs despite their contribution to Philippine revenues.
Government data showed that revenues collected from licensed POGOs reached P4.83 billion as of August 2022.