SENATOR Leila M. de Lima has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the alleged noncompliance of some foreign gaming firms, particularly in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) establishments, to ensure their workers are properly registered and taxed.
Filed on March 18, Senate Resolution No. 1030 called for the inquiry in the hopes of creating legislation “that would increase our capability to meet the increasing challenges in implementing our laws on resident foreign nationals.”
“Given the huge discrepancy between the number of foreign POGO workers in the Philippines and tax revenue from them, there is a need to document all foreign workers to ensure the legality of their presence and identify their taxpayer classification to accurately determine their corresponding tax liability,” Ms. De Lima said in the resolution.
The senator cited Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III’s estimate on March 6 in an interview with reporters that the government is losing P3 billion in tax revenue a month because of the nonpayment of personal income tax by foreign workers in the POGO sector.
According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), around 95,000 foreign nationals working in POGOs were issued temporary work permits by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) as of June 2018. Ms. De Lima warned that the lack of coordination among government agencies “could lead to serious issues, including those of criminality, national security, and possible abuse of our citizens by undocumented foreign nationals.”
A POGO takes bets and pays winners through an online gaming account. The Department of Finance (DoF) has expressed plans to compile a database of foreign workers hired by POGOs to ensure that they pay the correct taxes.
An interagency task force has also been formed to streamline the regulation of foreign workers. The task force is led by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and is composed of the DoJ, DoF, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR). — Camille A. Aguinaldo