By Gabriela Baron
Minority leader Bienvenido Abante filed a resolution urging the House of Representatives to investigate the reported irregularities in Philippine Offshore Gaming (POGO) hubs.
“Kami po ay nangangamba na dahil sa masyado na pong open itong POGO sa napakaraming lugar (We are starting to worry because there are a lot of POGOs around the country),” said Abante in an interview with DZMM.
According to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), there are 51 POGO hubs in the Metro Manila alone.
“Sabi po nila around 63,000 Chinese workers pero ito’y lumobo na raw sa 120,000. Sabi po nila ‘yong POGO e wala naman pong player sa Pilipinas, dahil abroad po ‘yan. E kahit wala pong player sa Pilipinas, kung nagiging gambling hub na ‘yan, meron pong pangamba ‘yan,”
(They said that from 63,000 Chinese workers, it has increased to 120,000. They also said that there are no POGO players from the Philippines because it originated from abroad. POGO hubs are becoming gambling hubs.)
He also added that some POGO hubs do not pay the right taxes.
“They cannot even tell us magkano buwis na babayaran nila. Namumuhunan lamang sila pag sinasabi nilang eto ang kikitain ng PAGCOR pero magkano ba ang dapat nilang bayaran? Marami po dyan ang walang work permit, hindi ko po alam kung anong ginagawa ng Immigration. Anong klaseng visa meron sila?” Abante continued.
(They cannot even tell us how much they are paying. They are just investing but not paying the taxes properly. Some workers do not even have work permit, I don’t know what actions Immigration does. Also, what kind of visa do they have?)
Based on the Department of Finance’s (DOF) computation, the government was losing as much as P22.5 billion annually from uncollected taxes.
“Naniniwala po kami na pag gambling ‘yan, may corruption ‘yan. Pag gambling po, may dishonesty ‘yan, (We believe that gambling has corruption and dishonesty),” The lawmaker said.
“Ang PAGCOR po parang nagkaroon ng sariling gobyerno, wala na po silang pakialam sa ibang ahensya ng gobyerno, tulad ng sa BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), Immigration (Bureau of Immigration),” he added.
(It seems like PAGCOR has established a different government, they do not even care about the other government agencies like BIR and BI.)
The BIR has estimated that P18,750, excluding taxes on allowances and fringe benefits, are not being collected from each foreign workers every month.
In August, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a resolution, urging the Senate to investigate the alleged uncollected taxes from registered and unregistered foreign workers in the POGO industry.