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Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Tuesday called on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to account for and disclose in public the real revenues from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs.

The chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs said it now appears, with the more than 200 POGOs ordered shutdown by authorities, the much-vaunted billions of pesos projected income from these online gaming firms is just a product of ‘media hype’.

“If I may recall, 46 out of the 58 POGOs licensed by Pagcor are registered local or foreign corporations. Now, the BIR, together with the NBI and PNP, had shut down more than 200 illegal POGOs,” he said.

“The question is: ‘How can the government derive billions of pesos in revenues from these POGOs if only 12 of them are registered firms and could be considered legal to operate in the Philippines?” he said.

In his planned legislative inquiry into the POGO operations in the country, Barbers said he would dig into who are the accountable and responsible persons that allowed and emboldened these “kolorum” online gaming firms to operate.

“First, we would ask the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and the Department of Foreign Affairs on the real number of POGO workers who are now present in the country,” he said.

“Next would be the Department of Labor and Employment on how many of these POGO workers had been issued with work visas and where are they deployed or employed,” Barbers said.

“The last, of course, would be the Pagcor and the BIR. Is there any truth on their much-vaunted prophesies of billions of peso revenues out of these POGOs,” he added.

The Surigao Del Norte solon said he could not comprehend why these Chinese POGO operators and workers are so emboldened in working in these “kolorum” firms, a clear indication that they cheat the government of revenues in terms of taxes.

“Dapat siguro malaman nating lahat, ng publiko, kung ano ang katotohanan sa mga ‘kolorum’ POGO firms na ito. Sino ang mga taong nagpapalaganap o nagbibigay ng proteksyon sa mga ito, at kung paano nito dinadaya ang ating gobyerno sa di pagbabayad ng tamang buwis,” Barbers said.

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