A congressman on Monday voiced concern over the presence of Chinese-run Philippine offshore gaming operations or POGOS in the areas near the country’s military facilities.
“Primarily, we [POGOs] should stay away from sensitive areas like the AFP and our security-risk areas. We must be more sensitive to that, PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, a nephew of President Rodrigo Duterte and brother of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, said in a television interview.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III expressed support behind the creation of online gaming hubs or IT parks that host call centers and other service providers of Philippine offshore gaming operators for easier monitoring and tax collection.
Dominguez told reporters he welcomed the POGO hub concept approved earlier by the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said wanted the Senate to investigate the apparent billions of pesos the government might be losing due to its failure to collect from the POGO hubs.
There may be 200,000 Chinese POGO workers in the Philippines based on studies, but Gatchalian said only 16,500 were registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
“Where are the 170,000 POGO workers? If we are to estimate the supposed collection of the government from POGO workers, were are expecting to collect P40 billion,” Gatchalian said.
Nograles said the presence of POGOs near military facilities raised security concerns.
“What I’m afraid of is the government has this tendency to forget the big picture and being too parochial as far as POGOs are concerned, he said.
He urged the House committee on national defense and security to look into the matter to allow the issue to be discussed publicly.
The Finance department earlier said the income taxes that could be collected from foreign nationals working for POGOs was P32 billion annually, with the list of workers pegged at 138,001.
Nograles earlier showed aerial photos of POGO hubs around strategic areas in Metro Manila, Cavite and Subic.
One of the photos showed Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame in Quezon City surrounded by POGOs in the Araneta complex in Cubao, Eastwood in Libis and the Ortigas Center in Pasig City.
There are also POGO hubs around Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City near the Philippine Army headquarters, including those in McKinley Hills and Mckinley West and another Chinese gaming operation at the Resorts World Casino complex, which is near the Villamor airbase, home of the Philippine Air Force.
Other aerial photos show POGOs situated near the Philippine Navy, the Senate, the former air base in Sangley Point in Cavite, and the former American naval base in Subic, Zambales. With Julito G. Rada and Macon Ramos-Araneta
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