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POGOs leaving for Cambodia amid order to settle taxes


Malacañang said yesterday Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators are leaving for Cambodia following the order for them to settle their tax liabilities before they are allowed to resume operations during the quarantine period.

In an interview with ANC’s “Headstart,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Finance will not back out from its order for POGOs to pay their taxes, including franchise tax first before they can operate in the country during the pandemic.

“Although the President has said we need all the resources, all the revenues that can be derived, including POGO operations, to fund the COVID response efforts of the government, I think the bottomline is, they have to settle their tax obligations,” he said.

Roque said one POGO has decided to leave the Philippines amid the order.

“I know only one has left, so far. This is a Macau-based operator but it  closed only its POGO operation. It is not closing its junket operation as far as casinos are concerned. If I’m not mistaken, this is Sun City,” he said.

“So far, it’s the only legitimate POGO operation that has manifested leaving the country,” he added.

According to Roque, the Philippines now has a competition in terms of POGOs.

“I do acknowledge that we’re getting competition from a country like Cambodia. These POGOs originally came from Cambodia and came to us because of better incentives. And now it appears that one company has decided to go back to Cambodia,” he said.

President Duterte has allowed the resumption of POGOs during the quarantine period to help fund the fight against COVID-19. However, the government has required POGOsto settle their tax liabilities first before they can operate.

Last week, Roque said POGOs were free to leave the Philippines if they would not pay their taxes.

According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., POGOs have contributed P94.7 billion to the Philippine economy. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)