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2 senators want BIR, Senate probes on ‘under the table’ POGO tax payments

/ 04:36 PM July 03, 2020

MANILA, Philippines  — Two senators on Friday pushed for separate investigations by the Senate and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) into the alleged “under the table” tax payments of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).

This, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. claimed that Pogos – some of which have threatened to leave the country because of stringent tax measures – pay their taxes through a “collector whose affiliation to any department was kept a mystery.”

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“The statement of Sec. Locsin confirms the illegal activity of POGOs in the country. If they are not paying taxes in BIR, then they are not paying taxes,” Senator Joel Villanueva said in a message to reporters when sought for a comment on the matter.

Villanueva chairs the Senate labor committee, which has previously conducted hearings into the influx of illegal foreign workers, the majority of which work for Pogo companies.

During a Senate labor committee hearing last February, a BIR official disclosed that the majority of licensed Pogos in the country has yet to pay the government an estimated total of P50 billion from their franchise, corporate and other taxes.

“The BIR should collect the unpaid taxes and investigate this ‘unnamed’ collector,” Villanueva went on.

“Any legitimate enterprise would know that taxes and other fees must only be paid with legitimate institutions such as the BIR and its authorized agent banks, and not with individuals,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the Senate blue ribbon committee should also investigate the alleged “under the table” payment of Pogo taxes.

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“The Senate Blue Ribbon committee should look into it too,” he said in a separate message.

Asked if Malacañang should also order an investigation into the matter, Pangilinan said it would be a “welcome move.”

“But given its track record of repeatedly clearing its appointees even before any investigation is undertaken and sweeping allegations of wrongdoing involving its people under the rug, I am no longer expecting Malacanang to look into these allegations of corruption,” the opposition lawmaker said.

Pogos were earlier allowed to resume partial operations by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) even under lockdown since it was said to fall under business process outsourcing (BPOs).

The partial resumption of POGO operations comes despite widespread opposition from some lawmakers as the industry has been linked to various crimes and tax issues.

Pagcor chairman Andrea Domingo had also said that only 30 percent of Pogos’ workforce will be allowed to resume operations under “strict protocols.” However, Pogos would need to settle their taxes first before they are allowed to resume operations.

/MUF
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TAGS: BIR, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Nation, news, philippine offshore gaming operators, POGOs, Senate blue ribbon committee, Senator Francis Pangilinan, Senator Joel Villanueva
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