BIR sees possible collusion between PAGCOR, casinos

by Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2014 09:49 AM | Updated as of Jul 02 2014 07:43 PM

 

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is in trouble with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

The BIR said it found possible collusion between PAGCOR and some big casino operators.

When the BIR imposed a 30 percent income tax on the casino operators, PAGCOR reduced the license fees they have to pay.

But the problem is, the casino operators still failed to pay the correct taxes.

"Wala akong pakialam kung ano man ang naging usapan ng PAGCOR and the licensees, pero up to now, wala pang pera ang inaakyat nila sa gubyerno, nasaan na yun. P50 million mahigit yan, plunder yan," BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said.

PAGCOR sought the opinion of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which favored PAGCOR's move.

But Henares said the OGCC should not be meddling in tax issues.

"BIR is the only agency authorized to interpret tax laws... Why follow the OGCC opinion," she asked.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is supporting Henares' stand on the matter.

Colmenares said the government has lost a lot of money because of PAGCOR chairman Cristino Naguiat's move to save casino operators from tax liabilities.

"Dapat ngang makasuhan yan... Bakit ang mga casino operators ang sinasalba nila, pera yan na dapat sanang mapunta sa taong bayan," he said.

He also questioned why PAGCOR's earnings have gone down since 2010.

"May P745 million ang kakulangan nila sa remittance sa gubyerno. Bakit pa nila babawasan ang license fees na binabayad ng mga casino players and operators," he asked.

But PAGCOR is pinning the blame on the agency's previous administration, saying it has to shoulder a P1.65 billion debt and back taxes worth P850 million.

Aside from the BIR, PAGCOR is also in trouble with the Commission on Audit.

COA is demanding Naguiat and other PAGCOR officials to explain how the more than P250 million intelligence funds were used since 2010.