Hontiveros says taxing POGOs not enough, wants ban on industry

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday said the law on providing tax regime for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) is not enough to end crimes allegedly caused by the employees of the industry.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure imposing a 5% gaming tax on services rendered by offshore gaming licensees and a 25% withholding tax on foreigners employed by offshore gaming licensees and service providers.

But for Hontiveros, POGOs must be banned in the country, adding that the government should focus on uplifting the lives of unemployed Filipinos.

“Hindi na nga matulungan ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas, patuloy pa ang dinadalang mga ilegal na aktibidad, mula illegal recruitment hanggang kidnapping. Dahil ilegal ang online gambling sa China, kadalasan promoter niyan mga kriminal at sindikato galing din sa China,” she said in a statement.

(We can’t address the economic crisis in the country, and yet we still accept illegal operations from illegal recruitment to kidnapping. Because of illegal online gambling in China, usually the promoters of illegal POGOs are Chinese syndicates and criminals.)

“Nananatili ang panawagang kong paalisin na ng tuluyan ang mga POGO sa ating bansa. Dapat pagtuunan ng pansin ng gubyerno ang pagpapabalik ng kabuhayan sa ating mga mamamayan, hindi ang pagsusuporta sa negosyo ng mga POGO,” the senator also pointed out.

(I am still pushing for removal of POGOs in the country. We should focus on giving jobs to our countrymen, not supporting the POGOs.)

She also said POGOs failed to settle their taxes, citing the P1.36 billion worth of debts of POGO from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), as indicated in a Commission on Audit report.

“Hindi biro ang bilyon-bilyong pera na maaaring magamit sana sa pagpapatakbo ng ekonomiya at pagbabalik ng trabaho para sa mga Pilipino,” Hontiveros said.

(Billions of cash could have been used to fund economy and employment for Filipinos.)

According to Senate ways and means committee chairperson Pia Cayetano, the measure will help the government raise up to P28.7 billion revenues this year.

However, revenues generated from POGOs decreased this year because a number of players relocated to other countries in Southeast Asia.–LDF, GMA News

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