Hindi Pinayagan ng POGO makapasok ang awtoridad ng Pilipinas ayon sa SBMA team, Marami pa din umanong hindi nagbabayad ng Tax ayon sa BIR
Ekxinum, Inc., the biggest POGO in the Subic Freeport, has thousands of Chinese employees at the sprawling some 3.6-hectare former school compound turned Online Gambling Center at Upper Cubi. Ekxinum, Inc. barred the SBMA Inspection team sent to check its compliance to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), and if it stopped operations as required during the Quarantine. SubicBayNews photo by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
POGO Refuses Entry, Inspection by SBMA Team - subicbaynews.com
How many POGOs have unpaid taxes? ‘Marami, halos lahat,’ says BIR chief - business.inquirer.net
POGO Refuses Entry, Inspection by SBMA Team
by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
A Philippines Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) is in hot water after it refused entry to the Inspection Team sent by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) over the weekend to conduct inspections to ascertain compliance to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), and if it ceased operations as ordered in the face of the Wuhan Virus (Covid 19) Pandemic.
“Ekxinum, Inc. told us to make an appointment first before coming for inspection,” team member SBMA Fire & Rescue Chief Ranny Magno said, “which is not right because inspections are supposed to be random.”
This prompted SBMA Chairman & Administrator Wilma T. Eisma to order the SBMA Business and Investment Group (BIG) to work with the Legal Department “in issuing a ‘show cause’ order for Ekxinum to explain why it barred the SBMA inspection team from entering its premises.”
According to Eisma, “other legal action may ensue from this procedure, if warranted. The random inspection of Ekxinum facilities and all other POGOs will take place in the same way the SBMA has made random inspection of all other establishments.”
Except for Ekxinum, Inc., other POGO centers and businesses in the Freeport allows the SBMA Team to enter and inspect their premises.
POGO Operations During Quarantine
Earlier, there had been suspicions of possible continued operations of the POGOs despite the government’s order to stop, which not only raises the risk of spreading the Wuhan Virus, but would also be cheating the government of taxes.
Like Ekxinum, hotels in the Freeport that are exclusively housing Chinese POGO employees like Buma Hotel and Inter-Park Hotel could have easily continued operations right from their rooms without getting the attention of authorities.
Passenger buses (above photos) from the hotels in the Freeport catering exclusively on long-term basis to Chinese POGO workers marked “Food Delivery Do Not Delay” and “Food and Basic Needs Service” have raised suspicions that they are transporting workers to POGO Centers within and outside the Freeport.
SubicBayNews photos by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Passenger buses from the said hotels marked “Food Delivery Do Not Delay” and “Food and Basic Needs Service” have also raised suspicions that they are transporting workers to POGO Centers within and outside the Freeport, thus, Eisma ordered stricter measures in monitoring the trips, and “if caught,” she said, “will be dealt with accordingly.”
Meanwhile, a former top telco executive told Subic Bay News that “telcos are now enabled by “Software Defined Networks (SDN), meaning they have intelligent monitoring systems to better manage their fixed and wireless networks.”
“SDN can measure real time usage of bandwidth,” said the executive who requested not to be named, “per port and/or per customer, among other metrics, that is, peak time/lean time, usage patterns, fiber cuts and outages, etc.”
Eisma said she has ordered the SBMA Legal Department to coordinate with the PLDT in looking into the “usage of bandwidth capacities” of the POGOs in Subic.
BIR Tax Payment Certification
Ekxinum, Inc. is the biggest POGO in the Subic Freeport that employs thousands of Chinese at the sprawling some 3.6-hectare former school compound turned Online Gambling Center at Upper Cubi which another company, Premium Technical Training and Facilities, Inc. that is also owned mainly by Ekxinum owners, leased from SBMA in 2017 and subleased to its sister POGO company.
Gated and heavily guarded at the sprawling some 3.6-hectare former school compound turned Online Gambling Center at Upper Cubi, Ekxinum, Inc., has thousands of Chinese employees. The POGO Company barred the SBMA Inspection team sent to check its compliance to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), and if it stopped operations as required during the Quarantine. SubicBayNews photo by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Eisma has informed POGO companies in the Freeport that should the national government give the go signal for POGOs to resume operations, they will have to submit certifications from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that they have paid all taxes due as of March 2020, as announced by PAGGOR Chair Andrea Domingo, otherwise they will not be allowed.
Earlier, the BIR has said “almost all POGOs” have unpaid taxes.
How many POGOs have unpaid taxes? ‘Marami, halos lahat,’ says BIR chief
While the government has already required Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) to first pay all of their tax dues before resuming operations during quarantine, compliance to the taxman was still negligible.
Asked by the Inquirer how many POGOs had yet to settle their mandatory tax payments, Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay replied: “Marami, halos lahat [Many, almost all of them].”
But Dulay said that he did not have exact figures at the moment.
As of early this year, about 60 POGOs were issued licenses to operate by the state-run regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), while 218 POGO service providers employing more than 108,000 foreigners—mostly Chinese—had been registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
POGO licensees tap service providers as the ones to serve their clients—online gamblers outside the Philippines, mostly in China.
On Saturday, the Department of Finance (DOF) reiterated in a statement that BIR was “making sure that POGOs and their respective service providers are properly registered and will pay the correct amount of income taxes and franchise fees to the government before they are allowed to resume operations during the quarantine period.”
DOF was referring to the BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 46-2020 signed by Dulay on May 7 containing the specific guidelines and requirements issued by Deputy Commissioner and POGO task force head Arnel S.D. Guballa last May 6, both of which laid down the strict rules on how POGO licensees, as well as service providers, can obtain clearance to restart operations.
“According to the set of guidelines and requirements issued by the BIR, all POGO licensees or operators should first show proof that they have already paid their 2019 franchise taxes, their withholding taxes due for the months of January to April this year, as well as the first-quarter payments of their 2020 franchise tax, before they would be given tax clearances allowing them to resume operations,” DOF said.
“POGO service providers, meanwhile, are similarly required to submit proof that they have paid their 2019 income taxes; and remitted and paid withholding taxes for the months of January to April this year, including the 25-percent final withholding tax due from their foreign employees, before the BIR would give them tax clearances to reopen for business,” DOF added.
According to DOF, even tax-compliant service providers “would not be issued tax clearances by the BIR should their POGO operators or licensees fail to comply with the bureau’s new requirements.”
“All POGO licensees, operators, and service providers should also submit a notarized undertaking affirming their commitment to pay all tax arrears for prior years of their operations and should be registered with the respective revenue district office (RDOs) having jurisdiction over their places of business,” according to DOF.
BIR also required POGOs and service providers to disclose the monthly regulatory fees they paid to Pagcor during past years.
Guballa warned that “failure to comply will result in the denial of the issuance of a BIR clearance for resumption of operations.”
Also, “submission of falsified or fraudulent documents shall result in the denial” of the mandatory BIR tax clearance, Guballa said.
Besides these stringent tax rules, “all POGOs and their service providers must also strictly adhere to the government’s safety and health protocols such as limited operations per shift, shuttle services for employees, regular body temperature checks and disinfection within the workplace, social distancing, and wearing of masks, among other measures to prevent transmission” of COVID-19, DOF said.