The head of the House of Representatives' ways and means committee says he sees no problem with the resumption of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations as long as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation requires their workers to have a Gaming Employment License or GEL ID.
Rep. Joey Salceda said allowing the POGOs to resume could provide cash flow to the government, which was in dire need of funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the issuance of GEL IDs would help the government know which POGOs were legitimate and thus capable of paying the proper taxes.
"PAGCOR [should] issue a GEL ID to each POGO employee," Salceda told reporters on Monday.
Last week, he estimated that the monthly tax take from the POGOs could reach as high as P2 billion if they were allowed to resume operations.
Rep. Fidel Nograles said Monday allowing the POGOs to resume to raise taxes to fight the COVID-19 pandemic would be ill-conceived.
He also opposed lifting the liquor ban to raise taxes.
“These options endanger public health. We can tap other sources to fund the COVID-19 response that will not facilitate the spread of the virus,” Nograles said.
“For example, external loans and internal loans. The projected taxes raised from lifting the liquor ban will not come in a flash. It’s just a projection, not actual cash.”
And lifting the liquor ban “may result in unnecessary and incalculable problems that may add to this health crisis,” Nograles said.
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations will first need to certify they have paid the remaining taxes they owe the government before they can resume operations during the coronavirus lockdown, an official said Monday.
Pagcor Senior Offshore Gaming Operations Director Diane Jogno said this was among several requirements that the POGOS must comply with before they could resume.
“We will be very strict with this requirement that they settle their remaining unpaid taxes to the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue],” Joqno said.
She said a POGO must provide proof that it had no liabilities with the BIR as of March 2020 as proof it had paid its taxes.
A POGO would also need to present a certificate of registration with the BIR, update its payment of regulatory fees with Pagcor, and pay a minimum guarantee fee for April even if it did not operate that month.