Past-due POGO taxes should also be paid to boost the government's COVID-19 response
Philippines Senator Risa Hontiveros calls for plans to prohibit the resumption of POGOs, adding that the tax should continue to be recovered from these operators in order to give the government more money to fight the epidemic.
Risa Hontiveros submitted Senate Resolution 368 on Tuesday, in view of the "financial, social and human costs" of the country's iGaming services, she tried to prohibit the resumption of iGaming operations.
The senator responded to the proposal of the Chairman of the House of Representatives and ACT-CIS representative Eric Yap, who said that "iGaming must be reopened to help raise taxes.”
The spokesperson of the Philippines President Harry Roque (Jr.) on Monday said that any decision allowing iGaming to reopen will take into account the government's urgently needed income due to the shortage of cash authorities have, billions of pesos in subsidies and medical purchase of equipment. He said earlier that iGaming provides "cash resources" for the president and the government.
However, Senator Risa refuted these claims, citing about 50 billion pesos in taxes that have not been resolved by the iGaming industry in the past few years. The Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue said the money includes unsettled royalties, corporate taxes and other taxes. The senator also argued that there are intangible social costs, such as increased crime rate and prostitution.
She said the money could easily be “transferred to fund government response to COVID-19”, such as providing 5,000 pesos in cash assistance to 10 million families.
Senator Risa added: "Even if the Chinese government is fighting offshore iGaming and money laundering, the Philippines' continued tolerance and acceptance of iGaming shows the lack of concern to eliminate this threat."
Last Sunday, Mayor of Parañaque city Edwin Olivarez asked the Immigration Department to expel 44 Chinese iGaming workers who were arrested for illegally operating in the city because they violated community segregation regulations.
Senator Risa added that “illegal immigration is a regulatory nightmare”, which is not worth the continued financial, social and human costs of online gaming in the Philippines.
Due to the COVID-19, the Philippine gaming regulator has suspended the operations of the iGaming industry since March 15.
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