Senate approves POGO tax bill on third, final reading

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 3, 2021   •   336

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)

Senators laud Diaz for winning PH’s first Olympic gold medal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senators congratulated Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz for winning the Philippines’ first Olympic gold medal on Monday (July 26).

In separate statements, lawmakers including Senator Panfilo Lacson said Diaz has made more than history for winning the gold. She also brought national honor, national pride, and good news to the Philippines at a time we Filipinos need them most.

“Hidilyn has become a unifying and rallying point for us Filipinos, to carry the weight of the humongous problems we face,” he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva said Diaz literally lifted the Filipino nation and for having Lupang Hinirang be played again on the Olympic stage.

“Hidilyn etched her name in our country’s sporting history. She ended our Olympic gold medal drought, and set a new Olympic record,” he said.

Senator Sonny Angara, author and sponsor of National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Law, assured that Diaz and her coaches will receive cash rewards for winning gold in Tokyo. For Diaz, Angara said she will receive P10 million and an Olympic Gold Medal of Valor to be issued by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Meanwhile, for her coaches, they will receive the equivalent to 50% of the cash incentives for gold medalists or P5 million.

“The entire nation celebrates with Hidilyn for bringing home the elusive gold medal in the Olympics. This comes at a time when we are all longing for some good news,” Angara said. AAC

 

Filipinos want to hear about jobs, economy, inflation in Duterte’s last SONA — Pulse Asia

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Among the top issues that Filipinos want to hear during President Rodrigo Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) are jobs, economy, and inflation according to the recent Pulse Asia Survey.

According to the June 2021 Nationwide Survey on SONA, topping the list of issues that Filipino adults would like to hear President Duterte discuss in his last SONA are jobs or livelihood (38%) and the Philippine economy (35%).

Other issues include measures to control inflation (33%) and plans to expedite the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program (31%).

Filipinos also want to hear about increasing workers’ pay (26%), improving the educational system (26%), and measures to be taken to prevent further Chinese incursion into the country’s territory in the West Philippine Sea (25%).

Meanwhile, a big majority of Filipino adults (69%) have heard, read, or watched any of the past SONAs delivered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte before Congress.

Awareness is more notable in Metro Manila (83%) and Mindanao (87%) than in the rest of Luzon (55%) and the Visayas (62%).

The nationwide survey is based on a sample of 2,400 representative adults 18 years old and above conducted from June 7 – 16, 2021 using face-to-face interviews. AAC

Senate opens third regular session of 18th Congress

Robie de Guzman   •   July 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday opened the third and last regular session of the 18th Congress ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) later in the day.

Thirteen senators personally attended the opening of the session while nine were virtually present.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III presided over the opening of the session.

In its third regular session, the Senate said it will work for the passage of 10 priority measures.

These include the Amendments to the Foreign Investment Acts (FIA), Amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE), Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.

The upper chamber will also prioritize the passage of Package 4 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) or the Passive Income Tax and Financial Intermediary Tax Act (PIFITA), Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), Rural Agricultural and Fisheries Development Financing System Act (Agri-Agra) and Package 3 of the CTRP or the Valuation Reform Bill.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said the Senate will work on the passage of the following measures: Modernization of the Bureau of Fire Protection, Increasing the Statutory Rape Age Act, Military and Uniformed Personnel Insurance Fund Act, Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Extension Law and possibly the Bayanihan 3.

Just like last year, visitors and guests will not be allowed inside the Senate premises due to stringent health protocols and regulations.

Family members of senators, former senators, government officials, and media personalities will also not be allowed inside the gallery hall. Only selected Senate employees will be allowed inside to assist during the session.

After the morning session, Sotto will lead some senators to the House of Representatives for a joint session of Congress to hear Duterte’s SONA.

Sotto earlier said only eight senators will physically witness Duterte deliver his SONA due to restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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