Gatchalian bares ₱1.9-B tax leakage in POGO industry, group vows to check compliance of members

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 18) — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Tuesday the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) industry was allegedly engaged in tax evasion, a claim that would be looked into by one of the industry groups.

The lawmaker said the government may have lost ₱1.9 billion as the sector failed to settle correct taxes, citing reports from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) covering the period January to August.

"It's regrettable that even legitimate POGOS are remiss in the payment of correct taxes. This is exactly the reason a tax regime for POGOs was put in place which is to reduce uncollected taxes due the government. It is lamentable that even licensed POGOs continue to disregard accurate payment of taxes," he said in a statement.

Gatchalian said his research showed that the Philippines was "not realizing the full benefits of allowing POGO operations."

"It's high time we consider developing other industries that are sustainable, high-yielding, and long-term businesses," he said.

Reacting to Gatchalian's report, the Association of Service Providers and POGOs (ASPAP) said it would review the financial submissions of its POGO members with Pagcor and BIR.

"Our group only represents 16 POGOs, less than half of those registered with PAGCOR. We're coordinating with our member firms to check compliance as part of our self-policing initiatives," ASPAP spokesman Atty. Paul Bongco said.

ASPAP earlier urged President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to "carefully weigh" the sector's economic contributions, including potential job losses.

READ: POGOs contribute ₱34.68B to PH economy annually Gatchalian

Considering its members alone, more than 23,000 Filipino workers may lose their jobs.

"It's unfair to blame the whole industry for the illegal activities of a few," Bongco previously argued.

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