POGOs must pay taxes before resuming operations in lockdown – Pagcor

Sofia Tomacruz
POGOs must pay taxes before resuming operations in lockdown – Pagcor
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation says revenue generated from them can be used to fund the government's coronavirus response

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs) will first need to certify they have paid remaining taxes owed to the government before they will be allowed to resume operations during the coronavirus lockdown.  

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Senior Offshore Gaming Operations Director Diane Jogno on Monday, May 4, listed this among the several requirements POGOs will need to comply with before reopening.  

Very strict po kami sa requirement na ito na ma-settle nila yung kanila pa pong remaining na unpaid taxes to BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue),” Jogno said in a Laging Handa briefing. 

(We will be very strict with this requirement that they [POGOs] settle their remaining unpaid taxes to BIR.)

Jogno added POGOs will need to provide a certificate or document it had no liabilities with the BIR as of March 2020 as proof it paid its taxes. 

Aside from this, Jogno said POGOs will also need to present a certificate of registration with the BIR, update its payment of regulatory fees with Pagcor, and pay a minimum guarantee fee for April even if no operations were carried out.  

Earlier in January, the BIR issued some 170 notices to collect a total of P27.4 billion in updated taxes from POGOs. The bureau aimed to collect P2 billion from these companies per month.

Why can POGOs operate? In appealing for resumption of their operations, Pagcor chief executive officer Andrea Domingo argued that POGOs were technically business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, which have been allowed to operate under quarantine.  

The country’s biggest BPO organization, however, rejected Domingo’s position.

The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines earlier said “IT-enabled jobs BPO companies create are of much higher value, requiring a range of technical, domain, and soft skills.”

The group likewise pointed out that unlike BPOs, majority of POGOs bring in foreign labor to support their operations.  

More money? Pagcor said allowing POGOs to resume would generate more funds needed by the government to fund its response to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Despite this, lawmakers warned against reopening POGOs during the lockdown as doing so carried a “high-risk” of spreading the coronavirus as operations were carried out in an enclosed area while workers usually lived in high-rise condominiums. 

Malacañang earlier insisted that there was no favoritism when deciding to allow POGOs to operate amid the lockdown. 

“No favoritism there. On the contrary, the equal protection clause says all those similarly situated must be treated alike,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said at the Laging Handa virtual press briefing on Saturday, May 2. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.