PNP says POGO hubs near police, military camps pose no threat to nat’l security

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019   •   347

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Oscar Albayalde on Friday said that Chinese-dominated Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs near police and military installations so far do not pose threat to the country’s security.

Albayalde told reporters in an interview at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City that foreign businesses usually consider setting up office near a police or military camp for security purposes.

“Ang pinaka-common action ng mga ‘yan ay to find a place nearest to a police station o nearest to a police camp for security reason sa kanila din,” he said.

Albayalde made the remark following concerns raised by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana over the growing presence of Chinese-staffed online gaming hubs and the risks its proximity poses to military and police installations.

Some POGO hubs are located near the headquarters of the Philippine Army in Taguig, the Philippine Air force in Pasay and the Philippine Navy in Manila. Other online gaming hubs are located near the headquarters of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon City.

“Kung ikaw ay negosyante, kung ikaw ay merong pwesto or facility na malapit doon sa police station o sa kampo you are already safe,” he said.

Malacañang earlier said it sees nothing wrong with the location of POGO hubs if this means foreign workers’ rights will be better protected.

“Military camps? Eh di lalong magaling kung military camps dahil binabantayan sila ng military for their protection,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

However, the PNP chief earlier pointed out that too many POGO hubs near police and military offices might be detrimental to the national security. (RRD with details from correspondent Lea Ylagan)

PNP confirms female suicide bomber in Indanan, Sulu blast

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that the suicide bomber responsible for the Indanan, Sulu blast on September 8, 2019 was a female.

According to PNP Deputy Spokesperson Police Lt. Col. Kimberly Molitas, the DNA test conducted by the PNP Crime Laboratory revealed that the human tissue, flesh and bone specimen recovered from the blast site was similar to a female DNA profile.

But the official clarified that the PNP has no way to determine the identity and the nationality of the suicide bomber because the Crime Laboratory has no equipment yet to do it.

“Remaining specimen and extracted DNA material is currently stored at PNP Crime Laboratory 11, DNA laboratory in Davao,” Molitas said. – MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)

PNP-HPG recovers 15 stolen vehicles in Parañaque City casino

Maris Federez   •   September 16, 2019

The Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) has recovered fifteen allegedly stolen vehicles at a parking area of a casino in Parañaque City.

The SUVs, AUVs, sedans, and motorcycles that are already collecting dust are assumed to have been abandoned in the parking lot for several months or years now.

The PNP-HPG said the vehicles could have been only rented and have not been returned to the owners as they had been pawned to financiers in the casino.

The authorities are now coordinating with the registered owners of the vehicles who could have been victims of “rentangay” or rent-sangla scheme. (from the report of Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

DILG, LGUs urged to revoke business permits of POGOs evading tax fees

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

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.

READ: PH gov’t to close down tax-evading POGOs

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.

READ: BI arrests close to 300 Chinese nationals in Pasig City

“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.

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