POGOs to stay; taxes to fund COVID-19 response – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will neither stop nor suspend the operations of Philippine offshore gaming hubs since their taxes may be used to fund programs such as the response to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) threat.
The President made the decision after reading a report from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) on revenues that the government earns from Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
“He [Duterte] told me yesterday that the Pagcor head submitted a good report to him, so okay. We really need the funds from those operations,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview over dzIQ on Sunday.
No basis to stop
The Palace official did not go into details about what the Pagcor report contained.
Panelo said many of the government’s programs, such as higher salaries for civil servants and the government’s response to the COVID-19 threat could be funded by revenues from Pogos.
“We have a lot of projects that need funding — for the increase of salaries of nurses, teachers. Now we have this problem with the coronavirus, we can also tap that,” he said.
“All of those can be done. Because the money we get from whatever sources is for the government, so the government can use that in any undertaking,” he added.
He made the remarks days after the Palace said the President had no basis for now to suspend or stop Pogos from operating, despite allegations of illegal activities.
He said Duterte could not be rushed into making a decision about the POGOsk without any basis, and that the President would wait for official reports before making a decision.
Some lawmakers are calling for the suspension of Chinese-run Pogos amid alleged violations such as tax evasion, money laundering, bribery, sex trafficking and kidnapping.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, however, downplayed the alleged crimes involving Chinese nationals as “isolated” cases which do not represent the entirety of Philippine-Chinese ties.
Panelo pointed out that problems related to Pogos can be easily addressed by just implementing related laws and regulations, instead of stopping the operations entirely.
“The problems in the operations, that can easily be solved. All you have to do is to implement established laws and regulations,” he said.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
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.