Makati City indefinitely halts issuing business licenses and permits to POGO service providers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — Makati City will cease to issue new business licenses and permits to service providers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) until further notice.

In a statement issued Sunday, Makati City Mayor Abby Binay said that this is to curb criminality and prostitution in the area, as well as to prevent the local property sector from overheating.

"We would no longer accept new applications for POGO service providers and crack down hard against illegal activities that are catering to POGOs and their employees within Makati," Binay said.

Effective immediately, the city will stop issuing "Letters of No Objection" (LONOs) and stop accepting applications for business permits from POGO service providers.

According to the statement, the influx of POGOs also led to a spike in property rates due to the demand for housing and work stations from foreign workers. This has put the local property sector at risk.

The city is currently home to around 300 POGO service providers that employ thousands of workers, most identified as Chinese nationals. This has led to a high demand for residential units, which also led to an increase in illegal apartment rentals.

Makati has collected more than P200 million per year from local business taxes from POGOs.

It has also shut down four illegal POGO service providers: two prostitution dens, one unsanitary restaurant, and one catering company, in the last two months. Authorities have seized P2.5 billion worth of illegal drugs from an apartment rented by a Chinese national.

Binay said the city's decision is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on illegal POGOs and related activities.

READ: Duterte gives POGOs 3 days to fix tax liabilities