Drilon: Looming POGO exodus a good news

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday welcomed Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) report that there is a looming POGO exodus amid tax “issues” with the government.

“That’s good news. Let them go. Hindi po natin kawalan ang POGOs [Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators]. Huwag po natin silang habulin. PAGCOR should stop playing a lover to POGOs,” Drilon said in a statement.

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“It should abandon any effort to [woo] them back. Our tax laws are clear: POGOs should pay franchise and withholding taxes,” he added.

PAGCOR chair and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo confirmed that Suncity, a unit of Macau’s gambling giant Suncity Group, has left the Philippines.

“I’ve heard there are other companies that also plan to cancel their licenses, but I haven’t received their official letters, so I can’t name them yet,” said PAGCOR assistant vice president for offshore gaming licensing Jose Tria.

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“There are other jurisdictions that have opened up offering better tax rates and friendlier environment,” Tria added, “Some [POGOs] also can no longer take the criticisms they get each day that make them feel unwelcome in our country.”

Drilon insisted that POGOs should settle their P50 billion unpaid taxes. BIR should immediately issue closure orders to POGO firms that would not comply, he added.

“Failure to implement it is a violation of its own rules,” he added.

Also read: More POGOs to leave PH over tax ‘issues’ with gov’t- PAGCOR

Senator Joel Villanueva meanwhile said the looming exodus of POGOs 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.

“They will not be a loss to the Philippine economy. We should attract companies that invest in Filipino people. Good riddance,” said Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

“We warned before about the property bubble,” Villanueva told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

“When the exodus happens, we expect a decrease in the price/rent of real properties. This will be beneficial to Filipino tenants,” he said.

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