POGOs leaving PH over tax issues? ‘Huwag natin silang habulin’, says lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines — Let them go. Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) businesses are not our loss.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said this Monday following the reported looming exodus of POGOs in the country as tax rules on online gaming are imposed.
“That’s good news. Let them go. Hindi po natin kawalan ang POGOs. Huwag po natin silang habulin (Pogos are not our loss, let us not chase after them). Pagcor should stop playing a lover to POGOs. It should abandon any effort to woe them back,” Drilon said in a statement.
“Our tax laws are clear: POGOs should pay franchise and withholding taxes. They should settle their P50 billion unpaid taxes,” Drilon added.
The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier said that it is looking into reports that some POGO outfits resumed operations despite failing to settle tax obligations.
Drilon called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to “immediately” implement a closure order to “delinquent POGOs.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros echoed Drilon’s call, as she urged Pagcor to revoke the license of tax-delinquent POGOs.
“Pagcor should exercise its regulatory powers and come down hard on tax-evading POGOs. Dahil kung wala namang parusa, wala namang multa, bakit pa nga ba sila magbabayad?,”Hontiveros said.
(If there is no punishment, no penalty, why would they settle their tax obligations?)
Hontiveros explained that failure to discharge financial commitments, including payment of correct taxes is a ground for the revocation of licenses.
“Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) na mismo ang nagkumpirma na walang POGO ang nakapagbayad ng utang na P50B sa franchise tax at withholding tax para sa muling pagbubukas ngayong may community quarantine,” Hontiveros said.
(The BIR itself confirmed that no Pogo was able to settle the P50 billion franchise and withholding tax for their re-opening during this community quarantine.)
“Kung hindi sila sumusunod despite repeated warnings, hindi na lang dapat temporary closure ang katapat. It’s time to cease their operations,” the senator added.
(If they are not following the despite repeated warnings, temporary closure is not enough. It’s time to cease their operations.)
Further, Hontiveros said that the government should go after the “bigger fish” such as “big-time tax evaders” like POGOs.
“Kung ang maliliit na negosyo, agad napapasara dahil sa hindi pagbabayad ng tamang buwis, all the more that we should be strictly enforcing the same sanction on tax-delinquent Pogos na bilyon-bilyon ang pagkakautang sa gobyerno,” Hontiveros said.
(If small businesses are immediately closed down because of their failure to pay the right tax, all the more that we should be strictly enforcing the same sanction on tax-delinquent Pogo which owes the government billions.)
“Pagcor should ensure that the country’s best interests are being upheld. Hindi interes lang ng POGO (not just the interest of POGOs),” she added.
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