Solon backs Duterte’s plan to regulate number of POGOs

� A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday expressed support to President Rodrigo Duterte's position to regulate the number of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the Philippines.

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap said imposing restrictions to this emerging industry is necessary after several reports of non-payment of taxes of POGOs currently operating in the country, as well as the various crimes committed by its workers.

There is a need to regulate POGOs in the country and I agree with the wisdom of the President. Despite all the perceived income that POGOs will bring, the harm and disadvantages that it entails may not be worth it, Yap said.

Citing the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), Yap noted that there is a self-imposed moratorium on new POGO licenses which will effectively limit the number to 62 POGO companies.

I would like to call on Pagcor to stand by this moratorium until such time we can determine the fixed number of POGOs allowed to operate in the country, he said.

Huwag po tayong magpadala sa kinang ng mga kikitain mula sa POGO operations na kapalit naman ay hayagang pagbabalewala ng mga ito sa ating mga batas (Let's not get carried away by the possible revenues from POGO operations in exchange for the blatant disregard of our laws), he added.

The House committee on ways and means has approved a measure, which seeks to impose a 5 percent franchise tax on all offshore gaming companies on gross receipts derived from gaming operations.

It also proposes to set a 25-percent withholding tax on foreign POGO workers with a minimum threshold of PHP600,000 per annum.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN, President Duterte said limiting the number of POGOs would reduce the high cases of corruption, extortion, and kidnapping linked to the operations of online gaming.

It's a game for the overseas Chinese, but the thing is, this kind of, especially gambling, breeds so many things: corruption, increase in crimes of extortion and kidnapping, Duterte said in an interview aired by dzMM on Monday.

From January to August 2019, the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected PHP1.63 billion in withdrawing taxes from POGOS.

Meanwhile, records from the Philippine National Police-Anti-kidnapping Group showed that there were six POGO-related kidnappings from January to November 2019.

In October 2019, the National Bureau of Investigation rescued 91 Chinese and four Filipino women from a karaoke bar in Makati City that served as sex den for Chinese clients.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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