Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the statement as the Senate began investigations on the alleged ill effects of the offshore gaming industry, particularly the alleged rise in criminal activities like money laundering.
Geremy Pintolo/ File
DOF says lawmakers should pass law vs POGOs
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers should pass a new law if they want to ban Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) from conducting business in the country, the Department of Finance (DOF) said yesterday.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the statement as the Senate began investigations on the alleged ill effects of the offshore gaming industry, particularly the alleged rise in criminal activities like money laundering.

“You don’t want POGOs, pass a law,” Dominguez said. “The laws that were passed by the legislature allow it. But if you don’t want to allow it, pass a law. It’s as easy as that.”

The finance chief said the only thing the DOF can do now is to run after offshore gaming firms who do not follow tax laws.

“My department is the only one trying to make these POGOs follow the law. And the law is pay your taxes. Pay the taxes for your foreign employees, that is number one. Pay the five percent franchise fee,” he said.

With regard to the influx of foreign currencies entering the country through airports, Dominguez also noted that there is no law prohibiting travelers from carrying a huge sum of money.

“It is legal to bring in any amount of foreign exchange as long as you declare it,” he said.

In 2006, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued Circular No. 507 requiring residents and non-residents carrying more than $10,000 (or its equivalent in other foreign currencies) into or out of the country to disclose the amount.

The BSP also required these individuals to inform the Bureau of Customs (BOC) about the source and purpose of the funds, along with their personal information.

On the other hand, Republic Act 7653 or the New Central Bank Act mandates a fine of between P50,000 and P200,000 or imprisonment of two to 10 years for travelers who fail to declare the money they were carrying above the $10,000 threshold.

However, Dominguez noted that the government does not have enough tools to trace where the amount brought in goes to, nor to determine what purposes they will be used for.

The finance chief therefore reiterated the need for Congress to pass the proposed amendments in the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Bank Secrecy Law.

“We really need that lifting of the bank secrecy. You know why? All this money eventually ends up in somebody’s bank account. We can trace it up to a certain point. After that we are not allowed to look anymore. Because we cannot look into the bank accounts,” he said.

Dominguez said the government would have more success in investigating these cases if authorities are able to look into suspected bank accounts.

“If people in the legislature want more teeth to look at this, please give us more teeth,” he said.

Online cockfighting

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has temporarily shut down the online betting operations of the Manila Cockers Club Inc. (MCCI) due to the firm’s alleged failure to register its machines and pay P1.3 billion in taxes.

BIR agents conducted simultaneous operations on Thursday in 19 online betting locations of MCCI, a large taxpayer primarily engaged in the business of cockfighting.

Following these operations, the BIR was able to seal 51 unregistered betting machines being used by the establishments.

“(A total of) 51 online betting machines were simultaneously sealed by 20 teams in 19 locations in Quezon City,” Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay said in a text message shared by Dominguez to reporters.

According to Dulay, the BIR assessed the MCCI with P1.3 billion in tax liabilities, including documentary stamp tax and final withholding taxes.

CARLOS DOMINGUEZ III DOF POGO
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with