POGO revenues to support funding for COVID-19 response

Published April 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

 

By Ben Rosario

The chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations on Thursday said that government can earn substantial revenues to support efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) to resume operations.

ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Eric Go-Yap (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)
ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Eric Go-Yap (FACEBOOK/ MANILA BULLETIN)

ACT CIS Partylist Rep. Eric Go Yap, who also serves as vice chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusements, ignored criticisms hurled against his suggestion. He said he understands that taking the POGO side is unpopular because of a number of misconceptions over its operations.

Yap stressed that his proposal is to allow Chinese POGO workers to work from their respective homes and not to seek an exemption from the strict rules of the enhanced community quarantine.

He added that resumption of operations should be restricted to POGO firms licensed by the Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) only.

The lawmaker noted that aside from the tax contributions to government by authorized POGO firms, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) gets a hefty revenue share out of their operations.

PAGCOR’s estimated share from POGO operations in 2019 reached close to P10 billion.

“Ang naisip ko dito ay hindi ang mga taga-China na walang trabaho, kundi ang milyong (puwedeng pantustos sa) pagkain ng mga Pilipino,” Yap told an interview with radio DZBB. (I do not consider the Chinese who are jobless, but the food for Filipinos.)

Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante criticized Yap’s proposal, saying that controversies over alleged non-remittance of revenues and non-payment of taxes continue to hound the POGO industry.

“If that is the case, then allowing them to resume operations ostensibly so the government can earn revenues to help battle the COVID-19 outbreak makes little sense,” he said.

Yap took exception to Abante’s statement, pointing out that the opposition solon could be referring to illegal POGO operators.

According to Yap, his recommendation does not cover unlicensed POGO operators that cheat government billions of pesos in taxes and foregone revenues for the PAGCOR fund.

“Kasama ako sa panawagan na ipasara ang mga POGO na walang iniaambag sa gobyerno. Pawang mga licensed POGO lamang ang gusto kong bumalik,” he said. (I join the call to close down POGO that contribute nothing to the government. Only licensed POGO should be reinstated.)

 
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