POGO probe eyed

September 17, 2019

CONCERNED about the proliferation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), four lawmakers are calling for an investigation to determine if there are irregularities in their operations.

In filing House Resolution 337, Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr.; Deputy Speaker and Cibac party-list Rep. Bro. Eddie Villanueva; Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon and Manila Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez, want to look into allegations that the booming business has led to the influx of unregistered foreign workers.

The solons also noted the report on government revenue losses as a result of non-payment of income taxes relative to the industry.

“Congress should conduct an investigation on the allegations of unregistered foreign workers, non-payment of income taxes relative to POGO, and the related issues on the effective implementation of Section 25, 1997 NIRC (National Internal Revenue Code), Immigration Rules and Regulations, and the Labor Code of the Philippines due to the unprecedented influx of foreign workers for the POGO Industry,” they said in a joint statement.

The solons want to know if there is a need to amend laws to allow the government to effectively regulate the industry and to ensure that the government is able to properly collect revenues from its operations.

According to Abante, the inquiry was long overdue “given the numerous issues that have surfaced regarding the POGO industry.”

The Department of Labor (DOLE) data shows that there are 63,855 documented foreign nationals working in the POGO industry.

But there are some estimates that peg the number at 120,000, and until today the government is still reconciling its data.

“The fact that we cannot even accurately account for these workers is troubling. If we have problems with regard to their documentation, then we will definitely have issues properly determining revenue collection,” Abante said.

Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said earlier this month that the Department of Finance (DOF) estimates around P2 billion worth of personal income taxes were not collected from POGO workers on a monthly basis.