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Makati bans POGOs

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 12/8/2019 Ghio Ong
Makati bans POGOs © Vallery Hache/AFP Makati bans POGOs

MANILA, Philippines — The Makati City government will no longer accept service providers of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), considered a multimillion-peso industry, Mayor Abby Binay said yesterday.

She said the city government will stop releasing “letters of no objection” and no longer accept applications for business permit from POGO service providers “effective immediately.”

Makati will also “crack down hard (on) illegal activities that are catering to POGOs and their employees within Makati,” Binay added.

The city government previously padlocked the Maxx Hotel along Makati Avenue and the Skytop Family KTV and Restaurant in Barangay San Antonio, which were both used as prostitution dens.

Several Chinese men, all believed to be working in the POGO sector, were arrested during separate stings while hundreds of women, mostly Chinese, were rescued.

Clients would pay up to P30,000 for sex with one of the women, according to earlier reports.

Police also recorded several incidents of alleged kidnappings of Chinese POGO workers.

Recently, police recovered P2.5 billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu from a Chinese man at an apartment in Barangay San Antonio.

Aside from these incidents, the city government noted that the increase in demand for housing and work stations for POGO workers “caused property rates in the city to spike,” putting “the local property sector at risk of overheating, where its growth becomes unsustainable.”

The demand also led to apartments being rented out despite not having enough safety mechanisms such as fire exits and fire alarms and being overcrowded – there are reports that as many as 50 Chinese POGO workers sleep in shifts in one apartment.

Binay said the city government earned an average of P200 million a year from from “almost all POGO service providers” registered with the business permits and licensing office and licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Around 300 POGO companies are located in Makati at present, according to the city government’s records.

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