Industry speaks up: POGOs are not BPOs

Ralf Rivas
'IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills,' says the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines

GAMBLING. A gambling company demonstrates their services at the 2019 Phil-Asian Gaming Expo. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The biggest organization of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies banded together to tell the government that Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) are not part of their industry.

The Philippine government recently allowed the resumption of POGO operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, with officials stating that these companies are considered essential. BPOs are allowed to operate under the Luzon-wide lockdown. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: How BPOs, human resources are dealing with coronavirus)

IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), which is composed of over 300 members, said there are 4 key differences between BPOs and POGOs:

  • BPO companies are registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority  or the Board of Investments, while POGOs are registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).
  • While BPOs and POGOs share one extraneous similarity, which is their offshoring nature, POGOs primarily do so because they are allegedly unable to practice their betting or gambling functions in their respective shores.
  • IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills. This is also very different from the work done by the game development sector which is sometimes mistaken as having similarities due to the gaming notion.
  • BPOs come to the Philippines to leverage off the Philippines’ human capital, like strong English and technical skills, customer service orientation, malasakit (compassion), and ability to adapt to foreign cultures.  This, in turn, has directly benefitted millions of Filipinos by providing them with better employment opportunities throughout the years. 

“In the case of POGOs, majority of their staffing comes from foreign labor brought into the country to support their operations,” IBPAP said.

IBPAP went on to say that POGOs are  not part of the Annual IT-BPO Headcount and revenue report, which in 2019 ended with 1.3 million direct employees and $26.3 billion in revenues.

Pagcor said in a statement that the “partial opening of POGOs will create ripples in economic activity, such as the real estate industry which has earned approximately P25 billion on leaseholds and rentals alone, as POGOs occupy 1,000,000 square-meter of office space.”

Malacañang insisted that the government did not show favoritism to POGOs when it allowed them to operate even under the coronavirus lockdown.

“No favoritism there. On the contrary, the equal protection clause says all those similarly situated must be treated alike,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said at the Laging Handa virtual press briefing on Saturday, May 2. Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.