POGOs to pitch in for P140-billion boost to coronavirus war chest: senator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 21 2020 08:53 AM | Updated as of Aug 21 2020 10:14 AM

Phil-Asian Gaming Expo features offshore games targetting bettors outside the Philippines. Games can be played on desktop or mobile devices. Photos taken at the SMX Convention Center. July 12, 2019. Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Chinese-run gambling hubs will be a potential source for funds to contain the coronavirus pandemic, under a law that allows President Rodrigo Duterte to realign P140 billion for the crisis, a senator said Friday.

The Bayanihan to Recover as One bill allows coronavirus funds to be drawn from the franchise tax of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

The franchise tax will cover 5 percent of the all bets, instead of just the winnings, he said.

“Dati sa P100 [na taya], kung magkano lang ang panalo iyan lang ang babawasan [ng tax],” he told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

(Before, if there is a P100 bet, only the winnings will be taxed.)

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The official exchange rate will be used in the reporting of POGO income so that the government could not be cheated of its taxes, he said.

“Kung ito’y hindi tama, puwedeng isara ang POGO at puwede pang may kaso na fraudulent tax return,” he warned.

(If the reporting is incorrect, the POGO can be closed down and face complaints for fraudulent tax return.)

Funds for the Bayanihan 2 bill will also come from savings from the 2020 budget, including those from state-run corporations and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Drilon said.

TIEZA alone has P15 billion in unused funds, of which P12 billion was re-aligned for the Bayanihan 2, he said.

Bayanihan 2 on Thursday moved closer to becoming a law after it hurdled a bicameral conference of senators and House of Representatives members.

It is the second law for COVID-19 crisis response, following the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which lapsed in June. -- With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News