CIBAC lawmaker wants taxes from POGOs

Irked by allowing the resumption of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) amidst COVID-19 crisis, Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) Party List Representative and House Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva says that “if the government wants additional cash for its pandemic response efforts, it should just make POGOs pay its tax delinquencies and other billions of obligations to public coffers, period.” 
The CIBAC lawmaker issues the remarks after the government say that before allowing to resume 30% of its operations, POGO companies must first settle the payment of taxes and guarantee fees to the government alongside with mass testing for their employees and strict adherence to social distancing.

“Why not just make them pay their due, why allow them continue their business when it will clearly put at risk the entire efforts of the government to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus? The entire country is enduring lockdown and other more essential industries are mamdated to stop just to arrest this pandemic, then here we are, we will allow an industry which barely benefitted us to resume business and make profits again, – it’s just an incoherent policy,” says Deputy Speaker Villanueva.

The government claims that POGOs can contribute as high as P600 million a month to beef up funds for government efforts in fighting COVID-19. However, a Senate-led hearing on POGOs early this year revealed that a number of these companies are yet to settle with government tax obligations amounting to almost 50 billion.

“If these POGO companies have stubbornly refused to pay taxes in the past, there’s no assurance that it will do it now so why endanger the lives of Filipinos by allowing their offices and junket casinos be possible hotbeds of infections. It’s just baffling why the government seems making itself “obliged” to help this gambling industry operate amidst this crisis?” ends the CIBAC solon. 

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