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tttflltEllll September r8, u or9

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4 House leadersseek

probeof Pogoindustry

By DJ Yap

@qeeEvqllryo _

Four House leaders led by Deputy

Speaker Eddie Villanueva and Mi- nority Leader Bienvenido Abante

Jr. are calling for a congressional

inquiry into the Philippine off-

shore gaming operators (Pogo) in- dustry amid the influx of undocu-

mented foreign workerg most of

whom do not pay any ta,\es.

Touchyissues

. At the center of the planned

House investigation are touchy

issues surounding the employ-

ment of mair y Chinese Pogo workers, such as nonpayment of income taxes, violations of immi-

gration and labor laws, and possi-

ble security threats drising from

the proximity of Pogo hubs to

military and police camps.

On Monday, the lawmakers filed House Resolution No. 337 urging Congress to launch an in-

quiry into the estimated uo,ooo

aliens working in Polos.

The objective of the inquiry is

to amend laws "to allow tlle go\/-

emment to effectively regulate the indusey and to ensure that

the government is able to proper-

Eddie Villanueva -RTCHARDA.

REYCS "

FROM ABAI)ITE'S FACEBOOK PAGE

ly collect revenues from its oper-

ations," the proponents said. Besides Abarte and Villanri€-

va, tlle otler autiors of the mea-

sure are Manila Rep. Manuel Luis

Lopez and Muntinlupa Rep. Roz- zano Rufino Biazon.

In a staGment, Abante said AIe

inquiry was long overdue "given the numerous issues tlat have sur-

faced regarding the Pogo industry."

. "Department of Labor data

shows that there are 63,855 docu-

mented foreign nationals wprk-

ing in the Pogo industry. But

tlere are some estimates that

peg the number at po,ooo, and

until today the government is

still reconciling its data," the

Manila representative said.

"The fact that we cannot

even accurately account for

these workers is troubling. If we

have problems with regard to their documentation, then we will definitely have issues prop-

erly determining revenue col-

lection," saidAbante.

Pogo hubs near camps

Aside ftom the revenue losses,.

Abante said he and the other law- makers were disturbed by reports

tllat Pogo hubs had been estab-

.lished in what Defense Secretary

DeLfin lorerzi.rn described as

"sh-ategic locations," spuring

speculatiods of Chinese espionage.

Some Philippine defense ir-

stallations that are near Chinese

*"u*-n*,

online casinos include the Armed

Forces headquarters at Camp

Aguinaldo, the Philippine Na-

tional Police headquarters at

Camp crame, the Air Force head-

quarters in Pasay City, the Philip-

pine Army headquarteqs in

Taguig City, the Philippine Navy

headquarters on Roxas Boule-

vard and Sangley Point in Cavite.

Lost taxes

"What kind of

possible

threats do these Pogo hubs near

our defense installations repre-

sent? These and other concerns are what we want to address in

an inquiry," Abante said. He dso cited a Depatment of

Finance (DOF) estimate that t}Ie govemment was losing P2 billion

a month in personal income taxes

that were not being collected from t}Ie Pogo workers.

Earlier this month, Finance As- sistant Secretary Antonio lambino

II was quoted as saying "our esti-

nate is Arat P2 billion a month {isl

not being collected ftom personal income taxes, and that is why an

intengency task force has been formed by the DOF in order to

make sure who is here in the coun-

tyworking in the sector." hlQ