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House bill imposing 5% excise tax on POGO approved on final reading

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill seeking to impose taxes on the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) in the country and on their foreign employees.

Voting 198-13-2, the chamber approved House Bill No. 5777 or "An Act Taxing Persons Engaged in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations Amending for the Purpose Sections 22, 25 and 119 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as Amended."

The bill aims to impose income tax to alien individuals who are employed by offshore gaming licenses an amount that is equivalent to 25 percent of the salaries, wages, annuities, compensation, remuneration and other emoluments.

The proposed measure also slaps an excise tax equivalent to five percent of the gross revenue or receipts from gaming operations and other similar activities on all offshore gaming operators.

Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate and Eufemia Cullamat voted no to the bill.

Zarate said POGOs have been connected to other illegal activities such as prostitution and illegal drugs. He added that POGOs have not provided jobs to Filipino citizens.

"Sa paglitaw ng mga POGO ay dumami din ang mga napabalitang kaso ng prostitusyon, iligal na droga at ang pagpasok ng mga iligal na dayuhang manggagawa. Hindi rin nakapagbigay ng dagdag na trabaho sa mga Pilipino ang mga POGO bukod sa mga “service jobs” tulad ng mga drayber, cook, at iba pa," Zarate pointed out.

For her part, Cullamat said POGOs also have a negative effect on the environment aside from the proliferation of criminal activities being linked to it.

"Matatandaan noong 2019, naibalita ang pagsira sa Island Cove Wild Life Sanctuary, isang Mangrove habitat sa Cavite, para gawing POGO hub," she said.

"Kinakamkam ang ating mga isla sa West Philippine Sea, tinataboy ang ating mga mangingisda, at ngayon gagawing pasugalan ang ating bansa?" Cullamat added.—LDF, GMA News