Police arrested 50 Chinese nationals and a Myanmar national in Makati City for working in alleged illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), Monday night.
Southern Police District said Makati City Police Station operatives conducted the anti-illegal gambling operation in a building along Victor Street in Barangay Pio del Pilar.
The police launched the operation after receiving complaints about the illegal gambling operation in the area.
Authorities arrested foreigners who were operating under Hua Xin POGO company.
Seized from the Makati POGO were laptops, gadgets, cellular phones with active sim cards, personal computers, broadbands, WiFi routers, and multiple electronic one-time passcodes.
The suspects are now under police custody.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) earlier tweaked the tax rules for Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) and their service providers. The modifications will allow them to continue operating as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Pogos and their service providers that are seeking tax clearance will benefit from the changes. A memo from Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay dated May 25 and was posted on the BIR website on Friday shows the new guidelines and requirements for Pogo license holders and service providers.
Before the revision, Malacañang said POGOs that would not settle their unpaid taxes could say “goodbye” and leave the country.
“We need them because we need the revenues, but unless they pay up, goodbye,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.
Roque’s statement came after Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) reported that two major POGO firms already left the country, and more could exit due to tax “issues” with the government.
Senators were also vocal in opposing POGO operations in the country. They said the gambling companies caused criminal activities such as prostitution, money laundering, and corruption in the Immigration bureau.
Sen. Joel Villanueva said the looming exodus of POGOs in the Philippines is not a loss to the country’s economy.
“The exiting POGO companies should still pay the taxes they owe us. Otherwise, we should blacklist them and name them publicly so that other countries will be warned about the behavior of these companies,” he said.