Senator Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday said that a committee report on issues in the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the Philippines will be released either Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
“We already have a committee report and recommendations. We will route it for the signatures of senators,” Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate committee on ways and means, said.
However, he said the group will still conduct a committee hearing today, to address new issues on POGO operations which were identified while they were reviewing the committee report last December.
“We have seen many questions, particularly the third-party auditor and we want to hear the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and other resource persons regarding these issues,” he explained.
He said it would be better to bring the issues in a hearing “in the spirit of fairness and transparency.”
He said there are many issues covered by RA 11590, the law on POGO when it comes tax payment and governance.
Gatchalian said senators also want to see how foreigners working in POGOs are paying their income tax.
He related that under the law, 25% or minimum of P12,000 should be paid by way of withholding tax. “This was not tackled the previous hearings,” he added.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier claimed that POGOs might no longer be worth allowing if their conducts bring social costs to the country considering the crimes linked to them.
President Marcos told reporters in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday that his administration is continuously determining whether the POGOs would still be good for the Philippines. With Vince Lopez
Mr. Marcos, however, pointed out that only the illegal POGO’s are the main problem in the Philippines as they were the ones who are usually involved in the abductions and killings of their own kin.
“I don’t know what would be the point. It’s not a huge part of our economy. And if it’s adjudged that there is a social cost, it might not be worth it. The cost might not be worth what they’re paying in taxes anymore,” President Marcos told the members of the Malacañan reporters covering the World Economic Forum.
“This issue came up a while back but when it came up, it was a response to all of those killings and violence, those illegal POGOs were doing. So yeah, I think all of these things we should be continuously examining to see if it’s still continuous to be a good idea for the Philippines,” he added.
The President said he wants to know the motivation for banning the POGOs in the country as there may be a good reason for such.
Last year, the Chinese Embassy to the Philippines claimed that the crimes associated with POGOs not only harm China’s interests but also the Philippines’.
The Embassy also stressed that the “social costs of POGO far outweigh its economic benefits to the Philippines in the long run and POGO should be tackled from the root so as to address the social ills in a sweeping manner.”
The Chinese government has been pursuing a crackdown on POGO workers.
“If China wants us to do that, we’ll see what the arrangement could be, ‘di ba,” Mr. Marcos said.
In September 2022, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that the country should do away with POGOs, citing what he described as “social and reputational risks”.
Diokno said the total revenues from the industry were estimated at P3.9 billion in 2021, versus the P7.2 billion recorded in the previous year.