Senator says impact of “social ills” by poor POGO regulation cannot be reversed

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 21) — A senator on Thursday said that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) should have been already regulated, as the impact of “social ills” brought by poor regulation cannot be reversed.

Senator Joel Villanueva said that the poor regulation of POGOs in the past has contributed to the mounting problems, such as rising property prices, increase in criminality and other illegal activities involving the said gaming industry sector.

“How can we put a price on this sector’s impact on the rising social concerns such as the growing property prices and increase in crimes, among other issues?” said Villanueva. “No amount of money can reverse the impact of social ills that this sector has brought on our shores.”

Early this week, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved House Bill No. 5267 which imposes a uniform tax rate of 5 percent franchise tax on all POGOs. Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda, the author of the bill, said that the measure is expected to raise P45 billion every year from the taxes.

Villanueva added that POGOs have only a minimal impact on the economy of the country. He noted that the POGOs preferred hiring foreigners, rather than locals, because these firms' main clients are mainland Chinese nationals.

The senator also pointed out that the presence of POGOs in the country led to a “brisk demand” on office spaces and residential lease.

“If the property boom is the only economic benefit we can cite [or] attribute to POGOs, then it is only right that we should impose more taxes on it. It is not only making our workers worse off by making rent prices higher and office space more expensive, it is also driving the cost of business operations higher as well, to the detriment of local entrepreneurs,” said Villanueva.

The Chinese Embassy on August has urged the Philippine government to investigate and put a stop to the illegal employment of Chinese nationals in local gambling sites, such as casinos and POGOs.

On the following month, the Department of Finance ordered a crackdown on gambling sites that refuse to pay taxes.