Gatchalian files bill seeking to repeal law that amended tax code

Gatchalian files bill to eventually outlaw POGOs: ‘It’s a moral failing’

/ 05:00 PM May 24, 2024

GATCHALIAN HEADS CONSULTATIVE MEETING ON PIFITA: Sen. Win Gatchalian heads a consultative meeting with insurance and health maintenance organizations on the proposed Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA) Monday, April 1, 2024. PIFITA seeks to harmonize and lower the tax rates on interest income, dividends, equity and debt instruments, insurance, financial institutions and other financial transactions. The measure aims to discourage arbitrage opportunities by removing tax-induced distortions and enable the Philippines to become more competitive as compared to other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. Discussed during the meeting were the value added tax (VAT) exemption of reinsurance premiums, documentary stamp tax on health maintenance organizations (HMOs), inclusion of collective investment scheme (CIS) in the bill and CIS criteria for tax exemption among others. (Nelson Ortiz/Senate PRIB)

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (File photo from NELSON ORTIZ / Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking to repeal the law that amended the tax code.

The law previously resulted in the taxation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).


In time, it effectively legitimized the POGOs.


Gatchalian, in a statement on Friday, said he filed Senate Bill No. 2689 last Wednesday to counter what he said is the only law that legitimized POGO operations.

“The main goal is ultimately to outlaw and prohibit offshore gaming operations in the country,” Gatchalian said.

The bill’s filing comes as several POGO operations were linked to criminal activities, including espionage.

Among the issues that Gatchalian mentioned are the connection of a POGO to a reported human trafficking ring inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga in 2023, and the police raid at the Xinchuang Network Technology in Las Piñas last July 2023.

During the raid, 2,700 suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued.

READ: Alleged Pogo link to human trafficking in Clark sparks call for Senate probe 


READ: Chinese scams traced to raided Pogo firm in Las Piñas 

Gatchalian also mentioned a raid in October 2023 in Pasay City where a POGO company was supposedly being used to prostitute women.

Another raid was in Bamban, Tarlac following human trafficking and serious illegal detention complaints — which were linked to Bamban Mayor Alice Guo.

READ: The peculiar case of Alice Guo 

“These syndicates could be fronting as Pogos but are engaged in criminal activities such as human trafficking and scamming,” Gatchalian noticed.

R.A. No. 11590 was signed into law on September 22, 2021 by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to Gatchalian, while it is true that the POGO industry brought in revenue and jobs, there have been a lot of POGO-related crimes reported and responded to by the police.

This situation has raised questions on whether or not having POGOs outweigh the supposed benefits they bring.

Gatchalian cited a cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Department of Finance (DOF) in 2022.

The analysis showed that while POGO operations generated economic benefits worth P133.7 to P144.5 billion annually, revenues have been foregone due to concerns from tourists.

“This means that POGO operations have brought more harm than good, as the economic costs greatly outweigh the benefits derived from such operations,” the senator said.

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“Beyond the financial impact, the rise in human trafficking and online scams linked to POGOs is a moral failing we must address,” Gatchalian concluded.

TAGS: Gatchalian, pogo

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