Villanueva: Why is nobody stopping POGO despite raids, non-payment of tax?
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva has slammed anew the apparent “VIP treatment” on Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) as he lamented how nobody in the government ever demanded a stop to the gambling trade despite numerous violations during the lockdown and continued non-payment of taxes.
Villanueva noted during a Zoom meeting with reporters Tuesday that numerous arrests have been made involving POGOs during the lockdown as their continued operations brazenly violated government-imposed strict community quarantines amid the pandemic.
“Fifty-three (53) arrested, April 24. May 6, 76 arrested in Makati City. May 14, a week later, 265 [were] arrested in Las Piñas. May 29, Bacoor, Cavite, 92 arrested. June 2, Quezon City, 151 arrested. Eh puro po Pogo ‘to, puro nasa loob ng GCQ [general community quarantine],” Villanueva recalled.
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“Every week na lang and yet no one— no one, is saying ‘O, talagang dapat itigil muna ‘yan. Dapat patawan muna natin ng buwis ‘yan,’” he added.
(Every week there seems to be an arrest yet no one— no one is saying it should really be stopped. Taxes should be imposed on them first.)
Even with the lockdown measures in place, POGOs were even earlier allowed to resume partial operations by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation since it was said to be considered under business process outsourcing (BPOs). The government also said it needs more money for its COVID-19 response and taxes from POGO could help raise the funds.
Although Malacañang later said POGO must first pay their taxes before they are allowed to resume operations.
However, according to Villaneuva, “Until now, as I was told, wala pa ring nagbabayad na bago. Zero pa din. It means dapat, hindi sila mag-resume. I don’t know if they would agree with me because it appears they are resuming their operations.”
(Until now, as I was told, no new POGO has settled their taxes. Still at zero. It means they should not resume operations. I don’t know if they would agree with me because it appears they are resuming their operations.)
“Talagang may VIP treatment. Hangga’t hindi tayo nagmamatigas, hangga’t hindi nagmamatigas ang gobyerno na dapat silang magbayad ng buwis, I don’t think magbabayad sila ng buwis,” he went on.
(There is really a VIP treatment. Until we are firm about them paying their taxes to the government, I don’t think they will.)
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