Total POGO ban will waste Marcos admin's efforts to fix sector, says Salceda 

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At a glance


    FB_IMG_1675831068350.jpgAlbay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda (left) and President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (Facebook)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The proposed total ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)--should it push through--will flush down the drain President Marcos' efforts to clean up the industry. 

    Thus, said House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Albay 1st district Rep. Joey Salceda following Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Ralph Recto's recent statement that he would recommend to Malacañang the "discontinuation" of POGOs. 

    "If you close down the whole sector, good players and bad, you put to waste all the efforts of the Marcos administration to crack down on the bad players," Salceda said in a statement Tuesday night, July 9. 

    "In tobacco, we get help from the tax-compliant players to find illicit trade. The existence of a legal, well-regulated sector is a tool for fighting illegal operations," said the economist-solon, who cited an example from another industry. 

    "If not for tips from legal operators, a number of the raids conducted on illegal operations would not have been made," he said. 

    POGOs went through a boom period during the previous Duterte administration. They have since been linked to various criminal activities, including syndicated crimes.  

    This bad reputation has led to calls from in and out of Congress to completely ban POGOs. 

    "Since Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) began cracking down hard on illegal POGOs under President Marcos’s administration, tax and regulatory fee collections have increased dramatically from fewer licensees. We are cutting out the weeds so that the flowers can grow," Salceda said. 

    He said that there were 158 licensees paying P2.99 billion in fees enforce the Pagcor crackdown. "Now, there are just 87, and they pay Pagcor 5.17 billion in fees." 

    "The difference is starker on the tax side. At the height of POGOs in 2019, there were 298 licensees that paid 6.42 billion in total taxes. Now, with just 87 licensees, internet gaming licensees paid 10.3 billion in taxes," he noted. 

    Salceda also claims that the legal POGO sector "is now also becoming less and less Chinese and more Filipino". 

    "Filipinos now account for as many as 25,000 direct POGO employees, with Vietnamese nationals now also outnumbering Chinese nationals. Among indirect hires, Pagcor cites indirect industry estimates that put the number of indirect offshore online gaming workers at close to 100,000, of which roughly 65,000 are Filipinos and 30,000 foreign nationals," he said.