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Philippine government loses P51B to POGO 'tax evasion' –Gatchalian

Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) operators' "skirting" of our tax laws  has cost the government some P51 billion in revenues, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Sunday.

Based on his calculations, Gatchalian told Dobol B sa News TV that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has only collected P11 billion from POGOs, when the amount should have been P62 billion.

"Ang nangyayari ay pinapalusutan tayo nitong mga POGO sa ating bansa. Meron silang tinatawag na off-shore companies, so ibig sabihin dito sila nag-ooperate pero hindi sila nagbabayad ng taxes kasi ang kanilang sinasabi ay hindi naman sila Philippine-registered, sila ay off-shore-registered," he said.

"Ito ay consistent doon sa sinabi ng BIR sa hearing na hindi nila mapuwersang kolektahan itong mga off-shore na POGO dahil hindi sila nakarehistro dito," the senator added.

Out of the 60 POGO licenses issued by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, only 11 are registered in the Philippines while the rest are foreign-registered, Gatchalian pointed out.

"Para sa akin, ito ay palusot. Kasi alam naman natin na nandito yung tao nila, nandito yung mga makina nila, dito sila nag-ooperate, lahat nandito sila, yung kumpanya lang ang hindi nakarehistro dito."

Likewise, Gatchalian said that while the government wants to attract foreign companies to make investments in the country, they should not be exempted from paying appropriate taxes.

"Itong mga investors na ito, kunin natin yung mga tama at yung mga moral na investors na pagpunta nila dito ang unang nasa isip nila ay paano magbayad ng tamang buwis, hindi magpalusot," he said.

Apart from a probe into the supposed non-payment of taxes, the Senate Committee on Women and Children is currently holding an inquiry into the alleged prostitution activities related to the POGO industry in the country. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News