MANILA - A lawmaker defended Tuesday a bill that seeks to impose 5 percent franchise tax on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations as well as another 25 percent income tax on POGO workers.
Speaking to ANC's Headstart, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, author of House Bill 5267, described POGOs as "exported jueteng" with kabos (bet collector supervisors) located in the country.
"It's exported jueteng. Ano ba ang problema? So nandito 'yung mga kabo," he said, adding that government could raise up to P45 billion in POGO taxes.
Salceda said POGO workers must pay income taxes since these foreign nationals come to the Philippines to work.
He questioned the Office of the Solicitor General's opinion that the government cannot impose taxes on POGOs based on the "source of income" principle under the country’s tax code.
"Ang problema diyan is, one, 'yung 100,000 workers sa Pasay, Parañaque wala ba 'yang ginagawa? Meron. Pangalawa, wala ba 'yang mga suweldo? Meron. Based sa accounting, ni-re-recognize mo ang cost pag rine-recognize mo ang revenue ergo income was generated here," he told ANC's Headstart.
"True, 'yung nag bet nasa China, pero 'yung enabling facilities and manpower nandito sa atin. So there was income or value added here and that should be taxed."
Official data from the labor department showed there are 119,000 Chinese nationals with alien employment permits or special working permits who are working in POGOs in the Philippines even as other countries have rejected POGOs. These POGO workers earn up to 10,000 yuan or about P72,000 a month, the lawmaker said.
"Saan sila pupunta? Sa Japan? Hindi 'yan payag. Korea? Hindi payag. Hong Kong, di payag. Macau, puno na, atsaka under siya ng China, di papayag. Indonesia, walang sugal. Sa Malaysia, sa Singapore, saan sila pupunta? Tayo lang ang nagbigay ng ganun karaming work permit."
Overseas Filipino workers who work in China also pay income taxes there. "That's automatic. That's why we don't tax them when they come back," he said.
The lawmaker also questioned why only 10 out of 60 licensed POGOs are registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. "'Yung 50 'di registered sa BIR. Hindi ko alam by what logic kung bakit may 10," he said.
He added that the taxes do not prevent the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to impose a 2 percent regulatory fee on POGOs. Presidential Decree 1869 consolidating all PAGCOR laws states that there should be a 5% franchise tax on all gaming revenues, he said.
"Ang ginagawa namin 'yung 2 percent maging 5 percent so ang kikitain ng gubyerno P20 billion doing nothing. Hindi kailangang buwisan 'yung asin, walang tatamaang bulsa sa mga ordinaryong Pilipino," he said.
He said that the move should be a welcome development to POGOs as this is almost "a form of legitimizing them."