Drilon: force POGOs to pay taxes for relief fund

POGOs owe over P50 billion in unpaid taxes in the Philippines.
POGOs owe over P50 billion in unpaid taxes in the Philippines.

The Senator wants to use POGOs’ P50 billion (€892.4 million) in unpaid taxes to fund Covid-19 recoverty programme.

Philippines.- Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon is sticking to his proposal to fund Covid-19 response programs with P50 billion (€892.4 million) in unpaid taxes from Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).

“No POGO shall be allowed unless these taxes are collected,” he said, repeating warnings made previously.

Drilon is trying to get his initiative included in so-called “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act”, which aims to accelerate the Philippine economy’s recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The senator said POGOs were allowed to stay in the Philippines and open ahead of other businesses during quarantine precisely to use their 5 per cent franchise to finance Covid-19 recovery programmes, the Manila Times reported.

Drilon said the POGO’s P50 billion in outstanding tax was “a huge amount” that “could go a long way” to help finance the response to the pandemic, and that companies’ failure to settle their obligations could be grounds for closure.

But senator Joel Villanueva, whose Labour Committee held an investigation on POGO operations in the first quarter of the year, told the chamber that Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials had earlier admitted to having a “hard time” collecting dues from Chinese-run online gambling firms.

Villanueva said that apart from the registered gambling firms, there were also 120 to 150 illegal online gambling hubs in the country, ABS-CBN reported.

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