Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Thursday (July 28) said that he had ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to stop its operations on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).
“I told the NBI to stop [their] activities against POGOs,” he said during a speech before Rotary Club of Manila members.
Citing numerous reports of extortion and irregularities described as “hulidap,” he said that he had issued the directive as soon as he took over the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He said that the Justice Department received a complaint by a POGO establishment where money had gone missing during an NBI operation.
“I told [NBI officer-in-charge] Director De Lemos to stop everybody from operating on POGOs because we are getting a very bad reputation on the matter,” Remulla said.
Remulla also claimed that there were also problems among POGO workers, including kidnapping cases.
“They kidnap each other, they sue each other at the DOJ, but they settle later on. So we are just wasting our time. We just get involved in their intramurals … We would only act if there is really a police matter that is necessary for us to work on,” he said.
“We had to put a stop to that and right now,” Remulla stressed.
The POGO industry flourished under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. However, it came under fire after a tax dispute with the government in 2019, which resulted in the passage of a law that says all offshore gaming licensees, whether Philippines- or foreign-based, must pay a five-percent gaming tax.
Foreign employees of these establishments are also required to pay final withholding tax of 25% on gross income, with the minimum final withholding tax per month not less than P12,500. They are also required to get a tax identification number.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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