MORE THAN half of Filipinos believe offshore gaming operations are harmful to the Philippines, according to a Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian.

The survey, conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, showed that 58% of 1,200 respondents see the adverse effects of the continued presence of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

The sentiment was true across location and class, Mr. Gatchalian said in a statement on Thursday. 

Most respondents were against the continuation of POGOs due to the proliferation of related vices and crimes, especially those involving Chinese nationals.

Others were concerned about tax evasion by the gaming companies as well as the increasing the number of Chinese nationals employed by POGOs.

Respondents also had concerns with the increasing cost of rent for residential or business properties as an offshoot of the presence of POGOs. 

“The survey results are an important piece of data that we will take into consideration as the data represents the sentiments of our people and provides relevant insights on the issue at hand,” said Mr. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

The committee is currently investigating the economic benefits versus the social costs of continued POGO operations in the country.

Several lawmakers have called for the government to ban offshore gaming operations in the Philippines, saying these have become a breeding ground for illegal activities including kidnapping and money laundering.

In an earlier hearing, Mr. Gatchalian also called out the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) for failing to regulate POGOs and stem abductions involving mostly Chinese workers in the Philippines. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan