Senator Win Gatchalian revealed that senators are mulling the closure of all Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) which most of them believes have only benefited criminal syndicates.
“What’s the point? Why do we have an industry that we are not gaining anything? The gainers here are the criminal syndicates which we don’t want. We want legitimate businessmen who pay the right taxes and who will not commit crimes,” said Gatchalian
“Last week, we had a hearing on POGO and it’s already creating a lot of clamor inside the Senate to investigate and look at the POGO in detail. If need be, maybe the Senate can recommend to stop the POGO operations in the country if we are not gaining anything. The Senate’s role is to pressure the government. First option is to enforce, meaning, collect taxes, arrest the criminals. Two, if things are not happening, then we have to think whether to continue to allowing POGO or not,” he added.
I heard also that China is also saying that it is not allowed, or they are not also gaining in that fund so what’s the point of all this? The question is, who is gaining? Those people who are thinking of doing illegal activities are the ones gaining which we don’t want. So my point here is, at this point, it seems to me that POGO is not giving the country any gain socially and economically and we don’t want that. What we want are honest businessmen to pay the right taxes.
Gatchalian noted that China itself has asked the Philippines to ban POGOs that have been causing harm to gambling addicts in the mainland. He said his views on POGO have changed in the last two years largely due to lack of control by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Immigration.
“In the beginning, my sentiment is different because you see, the POGO coming here, there’s employment, there’s taxes but now, with the crime coming here, may views are totally different now. The situation has changed and we want to protect our own people from criminal syndicates coming here,” said Gatchalian.
If the Philippines does shut down POGOs, Gatchalian assured it would have no impact on the economy.
“I’m very confident because I talked to our regulator, Bangko Sentral (BSP), and they are very confident that if POGO disappears, property industry will not be affected. Jobs will not dramatically be affected. The only negative impact will be PAGCOR because they are the one handling the franchise tax. But I think PAGCOR can offset that with other industries. But crimes are non-negotiable. We don’t want to see a society living in fear where everyone is in fear not only Filipinos but also fellow Chinese who come here to honestly work. So we don’t want to live in fear,” he said.