Villanueva urges DOLE, BI to join crackdown on tax-evading POGOs

Robie de Guzman
Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva has urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to join the government’s crackdown on tax-evading Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO).

Villanueva made the statement after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Wednesday shuttered a POGO service provider for failure to register its branch offices in Parañaque City to pay taxes.

“We could only hope that the BIR’s steely determination rubs off on the inter-agency task force assembled to stem the tide that is the influx of illegal workers. Since its organization in May, it has yet to mount a single round of joint inspections similar to the BIR’s effort,” the senator said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“Agencies concerned like DOLE and the BI in particular should be at the forefront of inspections such as this. They should be coordinating with the member-agencies of the inter-agency task force consistent with their mandate,” he added.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor, believes BIR’s efforts to shut down tax-evading offshore gaming firms could be maximized if DOLE and BI will join its operations.

“Had representatives from the DOLE and BI joined the BIR’s operation this morning, a proper labor inspection in the office premises could have been done, while immigration officials could have inspected the work visas of the employees. We could have maximized the opportunity that BIR already had,” he said.

The lawmaker also called on DOLE to remain committed to its mandate to “only accept foreign workers in the country if there are no other capable, able, and willing Filipino to do the job.”

He also expects the BI to fulfill its commitment to issue guidelines clarifying the working definitions of 14 occupations for which it could issue special work permits.

Meanwhile, Villanueva lauded the efforts of the BIR and the Department of Finance (DOF) to “keep business in check” especially in settling their obligations to the government.

“The Philippines is always open for business as long as companies conform with prevailing requirements and pay its correct taxes due to the government,” he said.

The DOF earlier ordered to close down all POGOs and their service providers that fail or refuse to settle their tax liabilities.

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