DILG, LGUs urged to revoke business permits of POGOs evading tax fees
Robie de Guzman • September 16, 2019 • 191
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday called on the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local government units (LGU) to support the Finance department’s move to shut down Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) that are not complying with the country’s tax laws.
In a statement, Villanueva said the DILG should help in this measure by ordering LGUs to revoke business permits of POGOs that are evading their tax liabilities.
The DOF over the weekend ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to close down and file charges against POGOS including their service providers that fail or refuse to settle the tax liabilities of their foreign workers.
The order was issued following reports of slow collection of withholding income taxes from select POGOs with tax liabilities amounting to P21.62 billion despite the issuance of 130 letter-notices to these firms.
“We do not owe anything to these errant POGOs who have the gall to refuse the correct payment of taxes of their workers. We expect nothing less than the immediate shut down of these firms,” Villanueva said.
“It is high time that our government acts with dispatch to make these firms comply with our country’s laws. We call on the interior department to support the Department of Finance by asking all local government units to revoke business permits of POGOs who do not comply with our tax laws,” he added.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) earlier assured support for the Finance department’s move to close down errant POGOs.
“We follow the law. BIR has the legal authority to close down establishments who evade taxes. Pagcor supports this move. We are issuing a letter to all POGO operators and service providers to this effect,” Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo said in a statement.
Villanueva also urged the DILG to assist the BIR in implementing the order by asking the police to shutter tax-evading online gaming operators the way it closed down operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) last month.
It can be recalled that police closed down PCSO outlets in July after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the immediate suspension of all its gaming operations over the supposed corruption in the agency.
The president later lifted the suspension on lotto and small-town lottery operations but with certain conditions.
Villanueva also pointed out that POGOs only provide “minimal benefits” to the country compared to its effects to Filipino locals and businesses, including the increase of rental rates for residential or office spaces near POGO hubs.
“Hindi biro ang pagsulpot ng sektor na ito at ang mga kaakibat na problemang dala dala nito tulad ng paglikha ng tinatawag na real estate bubble at pagtaas ng krimen sangkot ang mga dayuhan,” Villanueva said.
“Sa ating pananaw, hindi po sapat ang kanilang binabayaran na buwis para payagan itong mamayagpag,” he added.
He also raised concern over the spiking number of crimes involving foreign nationals, citing a recent raid in Pasig City where 277 Chinese nationals were apprehended.
“Dumadayo na rin po sa ating bayan ang mga kriminal na tumatakas sa kanilang pananagutan sa batas ng China, tulad na lamang ng nakaraang raid sa isang opisina sa Pasig noong nakalipas na lingo,” he said.
“Maging ang gobyerno ng China po ay hinihiling na ipagbawal na ang pagpapatakbo ng mga POGO mula sa ating pamahalaan. Maliit lang po ang benepisyo natin sa sektor na ito, at mas malaki pa ang dulot na abala sa atin nito,” he added.
Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, said a public inquiry into POGOs will be conducted where they will discuss all the facts and effects it has brought to the country.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Thursday (Oct. 17) said it has shut down two offices of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) service provider for tax code violations.
The BIR said it padlocked Altech Innovations Business Outsourcing’s offices in Aseana City in Parañaque and its branch in Pasay City for failing to register with the agency its value-added tax collections.
Altech is registered under the name of Jan Erick Lavariaz Altavas as a sole proprietorship.
“This is a Pogo service provider not complying with our tax laws especially doon sa value-added tax, hindi ito naka rehistro sa BIR kaya we have to close this Pogo establishment,” BIR deputy commissioner for operations Arnel Guballa told reporters.
The BIR said the company employs an estimated 700 to 1,000 Chinese workers.
Guballa said the firm will not be allowed to resume its operations until it pays its dues.
“Provided they comply with the conditions, we can lift the closure order,” he said.
“We deal exclusively sa violations ng tax laws. As far as the other violations, like work permit and other license, let’s say it’s on immigration and Pagcor na iyon,” he added.
In the last two weeks, the BIR said it shut down five offshore gaming firms for tax troubles.
MANILA, Philippines – The national road clearing program will continue and the efforts of local government units will be validated quarterly starting this December, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Sunday.
In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the road clearing effort was made into a continuous program after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed satisfaction over the result of the LGUs 60-day road clearing.
“The President congratulated the DILG and all LGUs who actively participated in the road clearing operations and directed Secretary (Eduardo) Año to continue with the program until the end of his term,” he said
The DILG said that based on their assessment, a total of 1,148 LGUs nationwide passed the validation while 97 were issued show-cause orders for getting failing marks.
The department said that validation reports from 1,246 LGUs showed that 6,899 roads all over the country were cleared of all types of obstruction with 328 local government units getting high compliance rating, 497 got medium compliance rating while 323 got low compliance rating.
Malaya said the challenge now to local government units is to sustain the gains they achieved all year-round and for those in the medium and low compliance category to improve on their performance.
“So, our advice to all LGUs is not to let their guard down, maintain and sustain what they have accomplished, continue with their road clearing operations, otherwise they will join the 97 LGUs that have been issued show-cause orders by Secretary Año,” he said.
Aside from road clearing, Malaya said they have also been working with other public and private agencies to help decongest traffic, especially during road accidents.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is satisfied with the road clearing operations that local government units (LGUs) had accomplished across the country.
However, 97 LGUs failed the standards set by the department in order to comply with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to clear all public roads of obstructions as they were turned into private parking spaces.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that overall, LGUs were able to accomplished 80 percent of the requirements with 1,148 municipalities and cities rated as compliant; 97 were rated as non-complaint and 388 others still under assessment.
Specifically, 328 LGUs were given a ‘high compliance’ rating for achieving 91% to 100% of the target; 497 were given ‘medium compliance’ rating for achieving 81% to 90% of the target; while 323 were graded ‘low compliance’ for achieving only 80% or even lower than the target.
Those who failed will be required to explain or justify their operations.
From their explanation, the DILG would determine whether or not they should be sanctioned which could lead to the dismissal of the local officials in charge.
“[That’s what we call] their best (or) their good was not enough,” Año noted.
Among the LGUs who passed the DILG standards were Metro Manila, but several major cities like Pasig City, Quezon City and Muntinlupa only received ‘medium’ compliance.
Taguig City was given low-compliance rating but the DILG said it was still up for review and validation.
Almost 7,000 roads were cleared across the country by the road clearing project of the government, 61 of which were all from Metro Manila.
“Huwag natin gawin ningas-kugon ang kampanyang ito,” Año said.
The official said they will send show-cause order first to 80 low-compliant barangays that are located in Metro Manila. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)
Metro Manila LGUs Compliance Rating (Source: DILG)
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