Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque insisted Thursday that the government has been collecting unpaid taxes of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs.
“Sinisingil po natin Senator [Risa] Hontiveros. Hindi po natin sila pinalulusot. Hindi po sila pupuwedeng magbukas hangga’t hindi sila nagbabayad ng kanilang mga buwis,” he said in a televised briefing.
Roque also said the government is tapping all sources of funds in order to support the needs of Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in the day, Hontiveros urged the government to collect the supposed unpaid taxes of POGOs instead of targetting online sellers.
"Imbes na online sellers, baka puwedeng singilin muna ang mga POGO na may P50 billion in unpaid taxes?" Hontiveros said in a statement.
"Hindi 'yung dagdag-perwisyo pa sa sarili nating mga kababayan na kaunti na nga lang ang kita para pandagdag-gastos sa pamilya nila," she added.
Online sales boomed amid the pandemic when several establishments including malls and restaurants, as well as mass transportation, are operating in limited capacities.
Last month, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is looking at proposals to impose taxes on online sales and streaming services.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 60-2020 states that "all persons doing business and earning income in any manner or form, specifically those who are into digital transactions through the use of any electronic platforms and media, and other digital means," shall register to ensure that they are tax compliant.
The POGOs, meanwhile, were allowed to partially reopen in May, ahead of other local industries in the country. — Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News