Villanueva urges BIR: Collect unpaid POGO taxes, probe illegal tax collector

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 03 2020 06:20 PM

Sen. Joel Villanueva sponsors a bill in the Senate on May 13, 2020. Joseph Vidal, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Sen. Joel Villanueva on Friday urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to investigate an unnamed official who has been illegally collecting "under the table" taxes from Chinese-run online gambling firms in the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said that a "collector" has been going to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) to personally "pick up" money supposed to be due to the government.

"The BIR should collect the unpaid taxes and investigate this 'unnamed' collector," Villanueva said in a tweet.

Locsin's statement "confirms the illegal activity of POGOs in the country," he said, noting that it should not be used as an excuse for POGOs to skirt tax laws.

"If they are not paying taxes in BIR, then they are not paying taxes," said the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.

"Any legitimate enterprise would know that taxes and other fees must only be paid with legitimate institutions such as the BIR and its authorized agent banks, and not with individuals," he said.

"Ang mali, kahit bali-baliktarin, mali pa rin. Mali nga eh," he said.

(What is wrong is wrong no matter how much we twist it. It will remain to be wrong.)

Villanueva's committee earlier found that POGOs owe the government some P50 billion in unpaid taxes as the foreign-owned firms refused to pay franchising fees.

Several senators have been pushing to ban POGO operations in the country, saying the online casinos have also been linked to numerous illegal activities including prostitution, corruption, and falsification of documents.