THE Ways and Means committee chief in the Senate said Sunday the enactment of a law setting the taxes on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO)—which tax gaming entities that cater only to foreigners —is a much better fiscal tack than pending proposals to allow online gambling among Filipinos.

In a dig at counterparts in the House of Representatives, Sen. Pia Cayetano said,  “I’d rather tax the POGOs than see a proliferation of gambling in the country, which sadly seems to be the direction that our colleagues in the House are taking with the recent passage of a bill allowing online gambling.”

In a statement Sunday, Cayetano described the  POGO tax measure signed into law last week as a “major win” for the Philippines, because it will generate billions in additional funds for public services, but without burdening Filipino taxpayers.”

She noted that “for years, many of these POGOs have been operating without paying the proper taxes. By virtue of this law that I sponsored and defended, they will now be taxed.”

Standing as principal sponsor of the POGO Tax Law, she pointed out that “POGOs are offshore gaming operators, adding this “means only foreigners abroad may gamble in POGOs. So the taxes do not come from Filipinos, or even foreigners residing in the country.”

At the same time, she added that under the new law, 60 percent of total revenues from the gaming tax imposed on offshore gaming companies will be earmarked by the government, and allocated for the following purposes:

■ 60 percent for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act;

■ 20 percent for the Health Facilities Enhancement Fund; and

■ 20 percent for the attainment of the SDGs, provided that the specific SDG targets shall be determined by NEDA.

“We made sure that the revenues from POGOs will be earmarked for much-needed health programs amid the pandemic, and contribute to the attainment of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” added the senator, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

Moreover, she reminded everyone that based on estimates of the Department of Finance (DOF), RA 11590 is projected to generate P22.9 billion in 2022, through the 5-percent gaming tax imposed on the gross gaming revenues of POGO licensees.

In addition, the government is expected to collect P9.2 billion in 2022 from the 25 percent final withholding tax imposed on foreign POGO employees. Combined, she said the total projected revenues from RA 11590 would amount to P32.1 billion in 2022.

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