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Salceda backs POGO operations; claims tax revenue outweighed cost

Albay Representative Joey Salceda backed the continued operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country arguing that the benefits from the industry outweighed the costs.

Salceda, Chairman of the House Ways and Means panel, claimed that the country collected as much as P22.4 billion worth of taxes from POGOs in 2018 and 2019 alone.

Salceda’s computation, however, also showed that only P8.8 billion of these taxes were directly paid by POGOs since the rest of the amount was Value Added Tax (VAT) collected from rental of POGO office spaces, VAT from workers’ consumption, and excise taxes.

According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, which regulates POGOs, a huge number of POGO businesses only paid the two percent regulatory tax and not the five percent franchise tax because their income was not derived from sources within the Philippines and as such, was beyond Philippine jurisdiction as argued by the Office of the Solicitor General.

Meanwhile, Salceda said that revenue from workers' consumption and rent payments had reached P94 billion the last to years (2018 and 2019).

“Noong andito ang  mga Koreano, hindi ba may ganun ganun rin. Natural ‘yan kapag  may mga enclaves e,” Salceda said.

“Mukha ba tayong nalulugi sa expeditures natin sa police force? I don’t think so. Just look at the taxes [collected from POGOs],” Salceda added.

Moreover, Salceda said that revenue from POGOs had been steadily growing, from P156 billion in 2017, P305.7 billion in 2018 and P574.5 billion in 2019.

“There is empirical evidence to support the position of [President Rodrigo Duterte]. You can say that [the benefits outweigh the cost],” Salceda added.

Senators Joel Villanueva, Richard Gordon, and Franklin Drilon, among others, earlier called for suspension of POGO operations due to the increasing incidents of crime stemming from POGO businesses, such as the unabated entry of illegal foreign workers, prostitution, residential areas being used as POGO offices, bribery among Immigration officials, and P14 billion worth of suspicious transactions involving POGOs as monitored by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. — DVM, GMA News