Manila - The Philippine government's economic team, led by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, has not yet formally discussed the proposed ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), despite preparations to mitigate potential economic impacts.

According to Philippines News Agency, while the revenue from POGOs is significant, the social costs and negative perceptions associated with the industry are considerable. "It may be a big number but the cost, particularly social cost of POGOs, is quite high. We're trying to position our country as a legitimate place for business," Balisacan stated. He emphasized the need to avoid a reputation that could deter investors and tourists by being perceived as a haven for criminal activities.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), under Balisacan's leadership, views the potential revenue from POGOs as not worth the associated social costs. Balisacan has previously expressed his support for the ban, suggesting that the long-term benefits of attracting genuine investors and tourists would outweigh the short-term financial gains from the gaming operators.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma also highlighted ongoing efforts to assess and address the potential negative effects on workers in the POGO sector. "We are preparing and anticipating the possible negative effects, that's also the reason why we do the profiling. We cannot actually wait for the day of its closure, we should be transitioning also," Laguesma commented.

The call for banning POGOs gained momentum following a series of raids on illegal POGO hubs, which revealed not only unregulated operations but also instances of torture and kidnapping. Finance Secretary Ralph Recto has indicated he will recommend to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that POGO operations be halted given the troubling issues surrounding the industry.

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