By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang vowed to go after Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) in the country for their failure to pay at least P50 billion in taxes.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after it was reported that the government only collected P5 billion of the P50 billion tax revenue expected to be generated from POGOs.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that the government will be going after the erring POGOs.
“Then we’ll run after them. Very clear naman si Presidente doon, eh (President Duterte is very clear on that). No sacred cows in this government. You owe the government? We’ll run after you,” he said.
“The President is not favoring anybody. If you broke the law, then you won’t get off the hook,” he said in Pilipino.
In November last year, President Duterte warned POGOs to settle their tax liabilities in just three days or he would turn them into pugo, a pun on the Filipino word “pugo” which means “quail” in English.
“Huwag ninyong lokohin ang Pilipino kasi ang Pilipino hindi loko-loko (Don’t fool with Filipinos because Filipinos are not fools),” he said.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) started its crackdown on POGOs on September 25 last year, when it shut down an operator for non-payment of taxes. Finance Secretary Carlos Domingues earlier said POGOs had around P21.62 billion in unpaid taxes.
During President Duterte’s working visit to Beijing, China in August 2019, Panelo said the Philippines and China will continue to cooperate to combat crimes surrounding POGO involving Chinese nationals. China has asked the Philippines to ban POGOs but the government argued that the industry was legal in the country.