POGO security guard arrested for involvement in kidnapping of 2 Chinese nationals

Maris Federez   •   December 10, 2019   •   2094

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) on Tuesday (Dec. 10) arrested a Filipino security guard involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese nationals in Las Piñas City.

The suspect, named Saturnino Matias, is a security guard in a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) where the mastermind of the kidnapping identified as Michael Chan is purportedly working.

Authorities found out about the kidnapping incident when another Chinese national who had also been abducted was eventually released after paying a ransom of 30,000 Renminbi or an equivalent of over Php 200,000.

The police, however, are looking into robbery as a motive for the alleged kidnapping of the two Chinese nationals.

“According sa interview dun sa dalawang victim natin, naglalakad lang sila sa along Alabang nung November 26. So bale, seven days na silang naka-stay dun sa room na ‘yun […] Allegedly, may utang itong dalawa na ‘to. Nagnakaw daw sila,” PNP-AKG spokesperson PLtCol. Joel Saliba  said.

The suspect, meanwhile, denied knowing that the two Chinese nationals he was guarding were victims of kidnap-for-ransom.

“Inosente po ako. Wala po akong alam diyan kasi Chinese po ang usapan nila, nagtatawanan pa sila eh. Hindi ko alam na ganito pala ‘yun,” Matias said.

He will be charged with kidnapping for ransom with serious illegal detention.

The AKG said the two are now added to the six POGO-related kidnapping cases recorded this year.

Meanwhile, the PNP-AKG will conduct a separate investigation on the alleged abduction of a female Chinese national in Makati on Monday (Dec. 9) night.

The AKG said they have not received any complaint from the relatives of the victim who the Makati City Police said is also an employee of a POGO company.

Police are also looking into unpaid loans as an angle on the case.

Former PNP chief Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa said authorities had been receiving reports of kidnapping incidents involving Chinese nationals even during his time.

He said the presence of POGOs in the country must not be singled out as the reason behind these incidents.

He added that even if Filipinos are not involved, authorities must still act on these cases.

“Kung yan ay kidnapping for ransom na victimizing wealthy Filipino businessmen or kahit sinong ordinaryong Pilipino […] cause of concern yan ng lahat ng mga Pilipino dito. Pero sila sila mga Intsik nagkikidnapan. Meron bang Pilipinong kinidnap ng Chinese? Wala pa naman. But still, it’s not a crime and should be stopped,” Dela Rosa said. (from the report of Harlene Delgado) /mbmf

Duterte signs law on POGO tax

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill seeking to set up a tax regime for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte signed the Republic Act (RA) 11590 on Wednesday.

“Bahagi ito sa ating mahigpit na pagri-regulate ng lahat ng klase ng gambling at pagbabawal ng iligal na sugal,” he said in a Palace briefing.

RA 11590 states that foreigners working in POGOs regardless of term and class of working or employment permit or visa are required to pay a final withholding tax of 25 percent on their gross income.

The law also imposes 5 percent gaming tax on services rendered by offshore gaming licensees.

Sixty percent of the total revenue collected from the offshore gambling tax will be used for the implementation of the Universal Healthcare Law while 20 percent each will be allocated to the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, and the attainment of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to be determined by the National Economic and Development Authority.

The government suspended POGOs and other non-essential businesses in 2020 when it imposed COVID-19 lockdowns.

POGOs will not be allowed to reopen unless they settle their tax liabilities.

The government is expecting to collect more than P100 billion in revenues from POGOs in the next four years.

Senate approves POGO tax bill on third, final reading

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 3, 2021

With votes of 17-3-0, the Senate has approved the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGO Tax Bill on the third and final reading.

Senate Bill No. 223 which President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent seeks to impose additional taxes on POGO.

The Gross Gaming Revenue or receipts from POGO’s gaming operation will have 5% tax. The gross income of all alien employees of offshore gaming licensees and service providers will also be imposed with 25% withholding tax.

According to Senator Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and sponsor of the bill, an estimate of P28.7 billion worth of taxes will be collected in 2021 once it becomes a law. Meanwhile, an estimate of P32 billion will be collected in 2022.

However, several Senators do not agree in approving the said bill. Senator Risa Hontiveros said online gambling should not be the main source of income for foreigners in the country. She also reported crimes and syndicates where several POGO employees are involved.

“I think it is important for this chamber, Mr. President, to take a stronger position against online gambling and the illicit activity it has brought to our shores,” she said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also agreed with Hontiveros.

“Indeed, whatever amount the BIR collects from POGOs may be used to fund projects to give relief to our people’s suffering during this pandemic. However, we cannot and should not turn a blind eye to the social costs that the POGO industry brings and has brought upon us,” he said. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

2 Chinese nationals nabbed for alleged kidnapping

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2020

Operatives from the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping group have arrested two Chinese nationals for allegedly kidnapping their fellow citizen.

Authorities identified the suspects as Weng Zhiting and Cheng Guo. Their victims were identified as Jiang Xiao Hao and Li Weizu.

The PNP-AKG conducted an operation in BF Resort Village in Las Piñas City on August 9 after receiving information from Jiang Xiao Hao’s wife that the suspects were demanding P3.5 million in exchange for his release.

AKG Luzon Field Unit Chief Col. Villafor Bannawagan said the suspects will face kidnapping for ransom charges while authorities continue to hunt down the suspects’ five other cohorts. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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