Panelo says PH to run after POGOs unpaid taxes, calls Taiwanese worker's outcries 'gossip'

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2020 06:34 PM

MANILA - The Philippine presidential office stressed Thursday that government will run after offshore gaming operators over their alleged failure to pay P50 billion in taxes in 2019.

“We'll run after them. Very clear naman si Presidente doon, eh. (The President is very clear on that). No sacred cows in this government. You owe the government? We'll run after you,” Salvador Panelo, the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte, told a press briefing.

“Basta nagkamali ka, meron kang transgression, hindi ka palulusutin.”

(If you did something wrong, you committed a transgression, we won't let you through.)

The supposed failure to comply with Philippine tax laws and allegations of human trafficking are among issues hounding Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which has recently seen a notable rise in number.

On Wednesday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros presented a 23-year-old Taiwanese who claimed to have been trafficked into the country to work for a POGO company. The victim, Lai Yu Cian, said she experienced illegal detention and even sexual abuse.

Lai tagged a “powerful government official” named Michael Yang as the protector of her employers. Hontiveros said they will check whether it is the same Michael Yang as Duterte’s former economic adviser.

“Tsismis lang naman 'yun (That's just a gossip),” Panelo said when asked for comment on Lai's claims.

“They should file a formal complaint. Hindi naman pwede papadaanin nila sa media (They can't just simply bring that out to the media). If there is a victim, then she (Hontiveros) should help in giving that victim justice,” Panelo said.