Following calls for President Marcos Jr. to ban totally and completely the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs), BBM said there must be very good reason to ban them considering the billions the government is getting from them in the form of taxes, fees and the employment of some 23,000 Filipinos.
There had been continued calls for the outright banning of POGOs following the entry of criminal syndicates from mainland China committing kidnapping for ransom and victimizing, Santa Banana, their fellow Chinese employed by the POGOs.
In other words, the social costs of the existence of POGOs far outweigh all the money they are giving to the government because of taxes and other fees.
The President must consider the peace and order of the country has a lasting impression among investors and tourism.
POGOs were welcomed by the former administration, ironically where the bettors were from mainland China where gambling is illegal and where it is outlawed.
If President Marcos Jr. wants a good reason to ban POGOs, well, here’s another one. It has been uncovered that Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) had contracted a third party external auditor for P6 billion for 10 years to show the POGOs are paying the correct income taxes and fees.
The third-party auditor, however, is not only lacking capitalization and is supported by a bank which is not recognized in the Philippines, but also has no office and no business permit to operate.
Santa Banana, this does not only need to make the Pagcor officials held accountable and jailed.
Mister President, do you need proof of the need to ban the POGOs?
My gulay, why then is the Philippines allowing POGOs to exist?
I cannot, for the love of me, see any justification for their existence.
The Pulse Asia survey also showed more than ½ (or 56 percent) of the population is against the existence of the POGOs.
Yes, some of them are operating legally and are paying the government the right taxes and fees.
But, as a general rule, POGOs have become a big social cost to the country. They must go, Mister President.
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The resumption of the investigation by the International Criminal Court of the thousands killed during the brutal and bloody war on illegal drugs of then President Duterte during the six years of his administration has generated a conundrum among supporters of the former president on one hand, and, on the other, among families whose relatives have been victimized by extra-judicial killings and politicians and lawyers on both sides of the political fence who want a truly honest-to-goodness investigation, which the government does not seem to truly conduct.
There are two implications of the ICC investigation because the Philippines had withdrawn from membership of the Rome Statute, which created the ICC.
And it appears that BBM does not want to resume membership.
If the Marcos government will allow the prosecution arm of the ICC to enter the country, most likely former President Duterte and Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa will be indicted for “crimes against humanity” for the killing of some 6,000 or more, according to the PNP.
But unofficial sources claim many of those killed were through “EJKs” or extra-judicial killings.
The same unofficial sources also claim some 28,000 or 29,000 have been killed, which include illegal drug users and addicts.
The issue of sovereignty has come up with government people claiming to allow the ICC to resume its investigations on the brutal and deadly war on illegal drugs by Duterte would infringe upon the sovereignty of the country, since our judicial processes are working.
This is where the impasse occurs — to allow or not allow the ICC to come to the country and investigate the brutal and bloody war on illegal drugs by Duterte with the PNP headed by Bato dela Rosa.
From my own point of view as a lawyer, the main issue here is sovereignty.
I believe, as the Department of Justice believes, since our judicial processes are working to make those members of the PNP accountable for all the EJKs, the judicial processes must be continued to hold accountable whoever committed those EJKs.
In a recent column of retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in another newspaper, he posed the question regarding long-detained former Senator Leila de Lima, whether she should now be released like Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the former chief of staff of then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The Supreme Court found Reyes to be the victim of “vexatious, capricious and oppressive to her constitutional right,” having been detained for almost nine years for the crime of plunder in connection with the “pork barrel scam,”,masterminded by Janet Lim Napoles, who has been in detention as long as Reyes.
Panganiban asked: “Will Leila like Gigi be freed via habeas corpus or via bail?
“If via habeas corpus, will her lawyers be able to show that the custody, though legal at the beginning, had become” vexatious, capricious and oppressive?”
Much still has to be done by them.
If via bail, will they be able to demonstrate that the prosecution evidence is “not strong”?
And, more vitally, will they go for broke and prove the delay had become so excessively long without her fault that would entitle her not just to temporary liberty but to outright dismissal of the charges? “
To answer Panganiban’s questions, I believe as a lawyer myself that the detention was all brought about by Duterte because when Leila was head of the Human Rights Commission, she exposed the so-called “Davao Death Squad” of then Mayor Duterte.
With the recantation of the detained vital witnesses against her for allegedly getting involved in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prison by the high profile witnesses, the illegal drug trade charges against her collapsed.
It is for this reason why her lawyers are now seeking bail for her since the evidence against her is no longer strong.
Santa Banana, as to the question whether Leila is the victim of “vexatious, capricious and oppressive” detention for almost six years, the answer is political.
My gulay, Gigi’s case was based on observance of her constitutional rights to liberty for almost nine years.
If the lawyers of Leila will choose habeas corpus, I believe she would also be given her liberty since we all know why she was charged for alleged involvement in illegal drugs when she was justice secretary.
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A recent Executive Order by President Marcos Jr. gave tourists coming to the Philippines a refund of the 12 percent Value Added Tax or VAT, which is imposed on products and services given to the public.
BBM obviously wants to grant this as an incentive for foreign tourists coming to the Philippines.
But, I believe this incentive discriminates against us Filipinos who still pay VAT as required by law.
When foreign tourists come to the Philippines, their exemption may appear as an incentive, but when tourists go abroad, like myself and my wife, we are ready to spend.
It’s not the cost of the things we buy that attracts us to a country, but the fact that we love seeing the place.