Resumption of POGO operations ‘not admin’s focus’ — Cayetano
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Tuesday that allowing the resumption of operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) “is not the focus of the administration” as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
During the online meeting of the House’s Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC), Cayetano said that its meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night focused on other sectors affected by the pandemic.
“Without violating the confidentiality nung pinag-usapan kagabi, actually walang pinag-usapan na specific na industry, kung hindi pinagsama-sama depending on the health risk and the impact on the economy. So they did not single out,” Cayetano said.
(Without violating the confidentiality of what was discussed last night, no specific industry was discussed. Instead, we grouped them based on health risk and impact on the economy. So they did not single out an industry.)
“For example ‘yung high risk sa health like yung tourism was discussed and how to help them. So in fact, I heard more comments from the economic team about how to help and how to fully operate the BPOs (business process outsourcing) rather than POGOs,” he added.
(For example, tourism has high risk in public health so that was discussed and how we can help them. So in fact, I heard more comments from the economic team about how to help and how to fully operate the BPOs rather than POGOs.)
ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap, who chairs the House appropriations committee, earlier asked the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to allow the resumption of the operations of Pogos, citing “tax purposes.”
“It’s not the focus of the administration, witness kami ni Senate President (Vicente) Sotto last night. They’re looking at all industries at yung mga basic sectors like agriculture ang focus talaga (and basic sectors like agriculture was the focus really),” Cayetano said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who was also present during the meeting, echoed Cayateno saying that POGOs were not discussed during the meeting.
“It wasn’t discussed last night. This POGO issue came out I think a week ago at the request of Cong. Yap and I believe it was also a request of the PAGCOR,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said the final approval, in the event, that POGOs be allowed to resume its operations, should come from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
“If they decide to open up the POGOs, and that’s not my decision, perhaps the final approval should come from the BIR, if BIR is indeed collecting the right taxes from the POGOs and from the foreign employees of the POGO,” Dominguez said.
In his bid to allow the resumption of POGO operations, Yap said the move would “give our tax collection a much-needed boost.”
“It will not harm us to have additional sources of revenue that we can use for our hungry countrymen. Lives are at stake and we need to act fast,” Yap, who formerly chaired the House games and amusements committee, said.
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