REAL estate management firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Philippines Inc. said that demand in office space from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) experienced a huge drop with a measly demand share of 3 percent in the last quarter of 2022, a far cry from the 38 percent of the same quarter in 2019.
Bryan Michael David, senior director for tenant representation of CBRE Philippines, said last Friday that 41 percent or approximately 363,000 square meters of vacated spaces came from POGOs.
David said the decline started to appear at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 caused by the “huge” flight of POGOs from the Philippines due to labor issues and travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
He noted that some developers started to apply stricter rules and requirements in accepting POGO tenants. These include demanding deposit payment for six months, license to operate and existing “Letters of No Objection.”
POGOs and their exit from the Philippines became center stage especially as lawmakers like Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel called for their closure.
In 2020, Hontiveros said it is high time to stop the operations of POGOs because of “social costs.”
POGOs became the center of numerous investigations for involvement in various crimes, a statement from the Senator’s office read.
“If POGO operations continue, these crimes would also likely to continue,” Hontiveros was quoted in the statement as saying. The Senator has exposed early that year sex and human trafficking dens allegedly linked to the gaming and amusement industry.
“POGOs are a nightmare to regulate. Given the financial, social and human costs POGOs continue to bring into our country, they’re just not worth it,” Hontiveros said.
In another development, Leechiu Property Consultants CEO David Leechiu warned banning POGO operations in the country would translate into losing almost P200 billion annually—from office and residential rentals, income taxes, electricity bills, employees’ wages and regulatory revenues, among others.
Image credits: Eimantas Buzas | Dreamstime.com
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The article was originally published in Business Mirror and written by Rizal Raoul Reyes.
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