Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Monday told the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue to collect the P50 billion unpaid taxes by licensed Chinese-owned Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and use the funds to be collected in the fight against the spread of the dreaded corona virus “that came from China anyway.”
“If only the PAGCOR and BIR could compel these POGOs from paying their tax due of P50 billion in 2019, that would be sufficient enough for use in the fight against Coronavirus-19. There is no more need for Congress to enact laws and for the government to secure loans to fight the virus.”
Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, urged Pagcor and BIR to dun Chinese-owned POGOs in the wake of a PAGCOR press release that POGO operators have donated P150 million in the campaign stem the spread of COVID19 and provide treatement for the victims.
“While we appreciate and are grateful for the much-needed donation, it is just a miniscule part of the taxes they owed to the Philippine government. Perhaps now is the perfect timing for them to pay their taxes. And that’s P50 billion. Let us not be fooled by a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he said.
At a Senate hearing on February 10, lawyer Sixto Dy Jr. Office of the Deputy Internal Revenue Commissioner for Operations, said majority of the 60 licensed POGO operators failed to pay an estimated P50 billion in withholding, income and franchise taxes in 2019.
“Aside from non-payment of billions of pesos in taxes, these POGOs brought social ills and crimes,” Barbers said.
These POGO operations, he said, could be used by Chinese drug and other crime syndicates as tool for money laundering, and are blamed for other illegal activities such as the kidnapping of gamblers who fail to pay their debts to financiers, prostitution, human trafficking, murder, online fraud, tax fraud, drug trafficking, among others.
Barbers said the Department of Health and the various private and government hospitals in the country, including the doctors, nurses and other concerned health workers badly needed funds to procure medical protective gears, testing kits, among others, to help them in their jobs to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 that originated in the science research center in Wuhan, Hubei province.
PAGCOR earlier reported that it has issued 60 licenses for Chinese-owned POGOs, while there are reports that some 200 other “colorum” or illegally-operating POGOs are operating.
The Bureau of Immigration reported that some 500,000 Chinese ‘visitors’ entered the country. An estimated 300,000 are believed to be working in various POGO centers legally and illegally.