Duterte justifies letting gambling operations resume: We ran out of funds due to pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has justified his decision to allow gambling activities such as the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the country needed more funds to address the health crisis.
Duterte admitted that he was initially opposed to the operation of gambling activities at this time. Until the country ran out of funds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Di ba nung Presidente akong bago ayoko ng sugal, I never allowed it. But pagdating ng pandemic, naubos ang pera natin. Ang reserba natin nagamit natin lahat to contain the virus from rampaging all throughout the country,” Duterte said in a taped meeting with the members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) aired Wednesday.
(When I was a new President, I didn’t like gambling. I never allowed it. But when the pandemic came, our funds ran out. We used up our reserves to contain the virus from rampaging all throughout the country.)
“Itong sugal, bakit ko pinayagan? Wala tayong pera eh… Ang POGO pinabalik ko. Sabi ko, sige. Ang akin lang, just pay the correct taxes. Iyan lang,” he added.
(These gambling activities, why did I allow it? We don’t have money. I allowed POGO to return. But they should just pay the correct taxes. That’s it.)
POGOs have been running in the country even before 2020 – when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Philippine shores – and was briefly suspended as coronavirus transmissions started to pick up across the country. POGOs, however, were among the first industries allowed to resume operations despite the imposition of quarantine measures nationwide, provided they settle their taxes and follow minimum health standards.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue said it collected P7.18 billion from the POGO industry in 2020 despite some operators leaving the country due to rules requiring them to pay taxes before resuming partial operations.
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