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Presidential office denies that POGO “exodus” is underway

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque took issue on Thursday with suggestions that the reduction in the number of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) operating in the country represented an “exodus” from the country.

“I think the word 'exodus' is not correct,” he declared. “It’s not an exodus because the policy of the Department of Finance is clear—pay up or otherwise you cannot operate in the Philippines.”

“What happened was, only 20+ of the 60 POGOs complied with the requirements of the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” he added.

The previous day, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told a Senate hearing that “POGO and service provider clients have started canceling their leasing contracts for lack of business.”

The Philippine Senate has revised the basis of the POGO’s franchise fee to 5 percent of gross bets from 5 percent of net winnings after tax avoidance concerns became widespread. Earlier this month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law an economic recovery package that targets P17.5 billion (US$360.7 million) in revenue from POGOs this year, compared with the P7 billion that was collected in 2019.

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