Villanueva laments loss of billions from Pogo workers
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva expressed alarm over the reported loss in revenue due to uncollected income tax from foreign workers employed in Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogos).
“If the DOF’s (Department of Finance) estimate is correct, then we have been losing a lot of badly needed revenue. This is disappointing, considering that the agency responsible for regulating gambling seems to be missing out a lot when it comes to overseeing the industry,” Villanueva said in a statement on Tuesday.
He expressed support for the creation of a consolidated list of foreigners working for Pogo service providers in the country to collect taxes and check the influx of illegal foreign workers in the country.
“If foreign workers want to work here, they have to follow our laws. They must pay the right taxes. They must secure the necessary working permits. They must obtain a proper working visa,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
“At the moment, this budding industry generates employment, but not for our kababayans. Sino ba dapat ang nakikinabang sa sitwasyong ito? Dapat tayong Pilipino ang nakikinabang,” he added.
Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the country was losing at least P3 billion in tax revenues each month from foreign workers in the offshore gaming industry.
Villanueva, meanwhile, cited data from the DOF which showed that around 103,000 foreign workers are employed in 205 offshore gaming service providers.
According to the DOF, these foreign workers are paid an average of P78,000 a month and from the average income tax rate of 25 percent, each worker should pay about P18,750 in income tax every month.
The senator earlier questioned supposed lax regulation of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s (Pagcor) of offshore gaming operators.
“At the committee hearing we conducted last February, the [Pagcor] representative admitted that the agency does not monitor foreign workers employed in offshore gaming operators and service providers which they accredit and license,” he said.
“This is clearly inconsistent with its policy of requiring all gaming facilities accredited by [Pagcor] to ensure that all personnel who participate in gaming operations have a valid gaming employment license (GEL),” he added.
GEL is “an authorization issued by [Pagcor] granting a person the privilege to be employed as a gaming employee within the Philippine jurisdiction.”
The manual identifies those required to obtain a GEL as “outsourced personnel or those hired through employment agencies whose tasks/functions require handling of or direct contact with gaming equipment or paraphernalia” aside from regular and contractual employees hired by the licensee.
In February, Villanueva led a Senate investigation on the proliferation of illegal foreign workers in the country. /cbb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.