Two senators on Tuesday, September 20 cautioned the government against imposing a total shutdown of the entire Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry saying it should only close down those that do not comply with the country’s laws.
“I don’t believe that shutting down the entire POGO industry is the solution we need in addressing the issues plaguing its operations which are mostly law enforcement concerns,” Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. said in a statement.
“Sayang ang kikitain ng pamahalaan kung basta-basta na lang ipasasara ang isang buong industriya dahil sa bulok na iilan. Ang kailangan ay hagarin at panagutin sa batas ang mga hindi rumerespeto at sumusunod sa ating mga batas (The government will just lose a huge amount of revenue if they would shutdown the whole industry just because of the nefarious activities of some. What we need is to make them comply and respect our laws) and provide a healthy business environment for law-abiding and compliant establishments,” Revilla further said.
Revilla pointed out the Department of Finance (DOF) projects the POGO industry to generate 50 billion to 70 billion pesos in tax revenues in 2022 to 2023 after new taxes mandated by Republic Act No. 11590 took effect this next year.
The kidnapping issues and other pressing matters like addressing the crimes committed related to the industry should be “a challenge to our regulators, tax collectors and law enforcers.”
“We should also ensure that those doing business pay the correct taxes that our country badly needs. Kung hindi nagbabayad, yan ang ipasara kasama nung mga magugulo at balasubas (If they do not pay, then they should close down those POGOs along those who disrupt peace and order),” he said.
“This is the challenge to our regulators, tax collectors, and law enforcers. Gawin lang nila ang trabaho nila, tulad ng sa ibang industriya, ay maisasaayos natin ito (They should just do their jobs, like those in the other industries, and it will work out),” Revilla said.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada also echoed Revilla’s stand saying authorities should go after illegal or unlicensed offshore gaming operators.
“Hindi makatwiran na saklawin ang pagpapaalis sa mga POGOs, at madamay ang mga kumpanyang legal at maayos na nagpapatakbo ng kanilang negosyo sa bansa, lalo na ang mga tumatalima sa mga umiiral na mga kautusan at batas (It’s unfair that the whole POGO industry would be affected while there are those who are operating legally and are doing good business in the country, especially those that comply with our present laws and regulations),” Estrada said.
“I would rather see these POGOs being made to strictly comply with a 70-percent Filipino staffing requirement to ensure the availability of local jobs,” said Estrada, who currently chairs the Senate labor and employment committee. -Hanna Torregoza/ Manila Bulletin