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Solon opposes POGO bill

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano said yesterday that he opposed the passage of House Bill 5777, or a measure taxing foreigners involved in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Paduano said the proposed bill, that was passed on third and final reading on Monday, was not the one that was debated upon during the period of interpellation.

If enacted, the bill will add foreign nationals employed by POGOs under Section 25 of the National Internal Revenue Code that lists the types of nonresident foreign individuals subject to tax.

“An alien individual, regardless of residency, and who is employed and assigned in the Philippines…by an offshore gaming licensee or its service provider…shall pay a final withholding tax of 25 percent on their gross income,” the bill read.

The bill calls for a 5 percent excise tax on gross gaming revenue or receipts from POGOs’ operations and other related activities.

Explaining his negative vote, Paduano said the bill included provisions that were not debated in past plenary sessions.

He also said that Special Economic Zones with their own charter, like Aurora, Zamboanga, and Cagayan, already have a tax provision in their charters, adding that they should have been excluded from the coverage of the proposed revenue measure.

Paduano also said the bill should have been referred to the Committee on Trade and Industry since HB 5777, in effect, amends the charter of the economic zones.*

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