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Cracking down on delinquent POGOs

"PAGCOR says it upholds the law and recognizes the legal authority of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in closing establishments that evade taxes."

Amid the controversy surrounding the Chinese workers’ influx in the country, supposedly to work for Chinese-operated Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, it’s nice to hear that no less than the agency in charge of the gaming industry and the POGOs, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, has thrown it support behind the government crackdown on delinquent online gaming operators.

In a statement, PAGCOR categorically expressed its full support to the government in cracking the whip on POGOs that are delinquent in the payment of taxes. PAGCOR says that as a government-owned corporation, it follows the law and is cognizant of the legal authority of the Bureau of Internal Revenue in closing establishments that evade taxes.

“It is in fact issuing a letter to all POGOs and service providers to this effect. Among the measures being implemented by the state-run gaming firm to hold POGO licensees accountable should they renege on their financial obligation are the imposition of interest on outstanding arrears, forfeiture of performance bond, imposition of demerits/administrative sanctions and charging of cash penalty, cancellation of license and endorsement to legal division for proper collection efforts,” PAGCOR’s statement read. 

“And while PAGCOR ensures that the government gets its proper and legal taxes from these POGOs, it would like to reiterate that the moratorium on the issuance of licenses to new POGO applicants that it earlier implemented continues,” it added.

That’s welcome news. But it would be better if PAGCOR also initiated a crackdown on illegal POGOs and the workers these illegal outfits employ.

There have been reports of Chinese POGO workers being apprehended for lack of necessary papers. Sources also say there are several establishments housing POGOs without the necessary business permits.

PAGCOR has to really get serious in controlling and monitoring these locally-based online gaming operators.

* * *

An international airline promoting Philippine tourism?

Recently, the Department of Tourism and Emirates inked a memorandum of agreement that aims to strengthen the Philippines’ presence in the European, Middle East and other international markets being serviced by the Dubai-based airline.

The agreement was formalized after successful discussions that explored possible avenues to increase air connectivity between various parts of Europe and the Philippines via Dubai.

“The lifeblood of Philippine tourism is connectivity. We are an archipelago and most of the tourists can reach us only by air. That is why I consider initiatives like this as critical to the continuing development of our tourism market. We are opening more gateways and with it, wider access for visitors,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

Under the new partnership, the DOT and Emirates will jointly explore and implement various activities to promote tourism in the Philippines with the goal of boosting inbound arrivals in the country.

Emirates’ Country Manager to the Philippines, Satish Sethi, said that since the launching of Emirates’ inaugural flight from Manila almost 30 years ago, they have been utilizing their broad network of global destinations to not only connect Filipinos to the world, but to also bring in more tourists to the Philippines so they can experience what “this beautiful country has to offer.” 

“We are very honored to be working with the Department of Tourism in achieving its goal of 8.2 million tourist arrivals in 2019, and we remain as committed to contributing to the growth of the local tourism industry as we have been when we started operations here in 1990," Sethi added.

Joint marketing efforts will focus on branded advertising and promotional campaigns targeting Europe inbound traffic to the Philippines. The two parties will also utilize digital marketing strategies, tapping into the different social media platforms and other e-marketing campaign initiatives to assert the Philippines’ presence in the international travel market.

Another focus of the partnership is the people-to-people exchanges, particularly to attract Europe-based consumers, trade and media agents by launching familiarization trips and tours in the Philippines. Under the agreement, both parties will also engage in joint roadshows, bringing together Philippine industry and key market trade partners, to boost opportunities for trade. 

DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon described the agreement as a welcome development. The DOT works to improve air connectivity from countries in Europe and the Middle East, considering Emirates flies to more than 40 destinations in Europe and operates more than  250 flights per day globally. European traveller numbers to the Philippines have grown by an average of 8.95 percent per year. In 2018 alone, inbound arrivals from Europe to the Philippines increased by 9.03 percent over the previous year from 675,399 to 736,421 chalking up 10.33 percent of the total international visitor arrivals to the Philippines.

Arrivals from Middle East, on the other hand, grew by an average of 3.96 percent per year for the last five years.

So, what happened to Philippine Airlines? Just asking.

Topics: Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators , PAGCOR , Department of Tourism , Philippine Airlines
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