The Chief Executive made his position clear at a press briefing last night at Malacañang when asked about his stand on the controversial POGO, which has been flourishing in the country, employing thousands of foreigners mostly mainland Chinese.
AFP/File
Duterte won’t abolish POGO: We need it
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite warnings – including from Beijing – that it can worsen criminality, Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) will continue because “it is good for the country,” President Duterte said yesterday.

The Chief Executive made his position clear at a press briefing last night at Malacañang when asked about his stand on the controversial POGO, which has been flourishing in the country, employing thousands of foreigners mostly mainland Chinese.

Duterte noted that the livelihood of many people would be affected if he bans online gambling.

“I decide we need it. Many will lose livelihood. It’s government-controlled,” he added.

But he warned operators of POGO hubs to pay the right taxes or be “shuttered. “

“To the concessionaire, if you commit a mistake, you will be shuttered. Then we will talk,” the President said.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo previously said online gambling, which employs about 130,000 Chinese nationals in the Philippines, was one of the topics tackled during Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in Beijing.

Panelo said Xi expressed appreciation for the Philippines’ move to suspend new POGO applications but said China would appreciate more if online gambling operations were completely halted. Xi had earlier warned Duterte of online gambling’s role in spawning crimes specifically money laundering, as he emphasized that all forms of gambling are illegal in China.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue has reported P200 million in taxes from foreigners working for POGOs. The finance department previously said the government forgoes about P24 billion a year for every 100,000 POGO workers who do not pay taxes.

Duterte’s pronouncement came on the heels of assertion by some of his officials that the local economy has been benefiting significantly from online gambling. Based on Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. projections, revenues from POGO – especially from royalties and licensing fees – could reach P8 billion this year from last year’s P6 billion.

Earlier, Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said Beijing has no authority to order the Philippine government to shut down POGO operations employing Chinese nationals.

“They cannot dictate on us. Those are sovereign decisions. That is where we stand,” Sta. Romana said in Beijing during Duterte’s China visit.

CASINO CHINA PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATIONS
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