DOLE, BI told: Lead crackdown on tax-evading Pogos
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) should be at the forefront of the government’s crackdown on tax-evading Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), Senator Joel Villanueva said.
Villanueva’s statement came after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) closed down Wednesday morning a Pogo service provider for its failure to register its branch offices in the Parañaque City to pay taxes.
“We could only hope that the BIR’s steely determination rubs off on the inter-agency task force assembled to stem the tide that is the influx of illegal workers. Since its organization in May, it has yet to mount a single round of joint inspections similar to the BIR’s effort,” the senator said.
“Agencies concerned like (DOLE and the BI) in particular should be at the forefront of inspections such as this. They should be coordinating with the member-agencies of the inter-agency task force consistent with their mandate,” he added.
Villanueva said that efforts made by the BIR could be maximized should DOLE and BI join its operations.
“Had representatives from the DOLE and BI joined the BIR’s operation this morning, a proper labor inspection in the office premises could have been done, while immigration officials could have inspected the work visas of the employees, we could have maximized the opportunity that BIR already had,” he said.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, also said he expects DOLE to “stay committed to its mandate under the Labor Code to only accept foreign workers in the country if there are no other capable, able, and willing Filipino to do the job.”
The senator, meanwhile, commended the Department of Finance (DOF) for its “relentless effort” to “keep business in check” especially in settling their obligations to the government.
“The Philippines is always open for business as long as companies conform with prevailing requirements and pay its correct taxes due to the government,” he said.
The influx of illegal Chinese workers was one of the reasons that triggered the government’s crackdown on illegal Pogos.
The number of Chinese nationals arriving in the country has nearly tripled since 2016, with the majority of working in the POGO industry.
They would often fill up hotel rooms and office towers, swamp condominiums and boost retail sales.
While there are economic benefits, there has been a mounting fear that Chinese workers are taking the job from Filipinos, evading taxes and committing crimes.
BIR then reported that tax collections from Pogos have increased amid the agency’s intensified drive against Pogos evading their tax obligations.
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