PAGCOR collected $150K monthly from Porac POGO

PORAC, Pampanga – A lawyer of the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) who attended the special Sangguniang Bayan session here on Thursday said the agency collected $150,000 or an equivalent of some P8.7-million in peso each month from the Lucky South 99, the mega POGO hub that was recently shut down.
Porac Vice Mayor Francis Laurence Tamayo presides over the Sangguniang Bayan session on Thursday in Porac, Pampanga. Atty. Joseph Lobo of the PAGCOR Legal with two other representatives had attended the hearing to shed light on the operations of the Porac mega POGO, Lucky South 99.
During the Porac SB session, Atty. Joseph Lobo of PAGCOR, reportedly said that the government agency tasked to issue permits for Internet Gaming Licensees (IGLs) and to monitor their operations, had collected $150,000 per month in lieu of the 2 percent of gross income per month whichever is higher since it started operations in 2019.
The PAGCOR legal counsel and two other representatives also said they monitored the operations of Lucky South 99 – the 3,000-hectare which was allowed to operate but not the whole Lucky South 99 area.
PAGCOR is the sole government agency authorized to collect taxes from POGO operators in the country.
The LGUs only provide the “Letter of No Objection.” Porac LGU provided the LONO for the operation of a Business Processing Outsourcing and not for POGO, according to Porac Mayor Jaime “Jing” Capil.
Under RA No. 11590 or an “Act Taxing Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations” which amends certain provisions in the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) to clarify taxes imposed on POGOs, PAGCOR is the only government agency allowed to collect taxes from POGO operations.
The amendment prescribes that with respect to POGOs’ gaming income, the entire gross gaming revenue or receipts are subject to a percentage tax of 5%, in lieu of all other direct and indirect internal revenue and local taxes.
“Walang taxes na kinokolekta ang mga LGUs kundi ang buwis na binabayad lamang ng mga may ari ng buildings. Ang building owner po ay ang Whirlwind Corporation at nagbayad naman po ito ng mga karampatang fees para sa mga permits,” said Capil.
It was learned that the only fees collected from the POGO area which is owned by the Whirlwind Corporation are payments for Building Permit, Electrical Permit, Locational Clearance, Certificate of Occupancy, and Surcharge totaling P5,117,608.63 collected from 2019 up to 2023. Whirldwind Corporation rents out the area to Lucky South 99, which operated the POGO that was shut down by the Presidential Anti Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).
Capil has reiterated the Porac LGU had only issued a “Letter of No Objection” or LONO for the operation of a Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) business back in 2019.
PAGCOR did not ask the Porac LGU to amend the LONO in favor of a POGO operations, according to Capil.
The mayor has also said the Porac LGU did not renew the Business Permit of Lucky South 99 for 2024 for certain violations contrary to what PAGCOR had been saying that they issued a Business Permit this year.
Capil has maintained his claim that PAGCOR is the only government entity allowed to inspect the area.
PAOCC has recently uncovered cases of human trafficking, kidnapping, torture, and online scams in the facility located in Pulung Maba, Porac, which was an abandoned sitio.
“I will not tolerate any illegal activities in Porac town. We allowed this BPO to operate in our town but if Lucky South 99 was involved in illegal activities which PAGCOR did not report, I will support the move to ban POGO in the country,” said Capil.
“Hindi ko po isasaalang- alang ang kapakanan ng mga taga Porac at ng mga mamamayan ng Pampanga sa mga illegal na gawain sa POGO,” said Capil.
Capil has supported moves to contain POGO-related crimes in Pampanga province. As a member of the Metro Clark Advisory Council (MCAC), Capil has signed Resolution No. 3 Series of 2024 “supporting the actions of Clark Development Corporation and Local Government of Mabalacat City deferring the acceptance and processing of POGO applications and their BPO service providers in its concerted efforts to curb POGO-related crimes.”
The MCAC resolution stated the “MCAC member LGUs are alarmed over these incidents on POGO operations within the Metro Clark Area and the proliferation of POGO-related crimes such as human trafficking, forcible abduction, homicide, illegal detention, kidnap-for-ransom, theft, robbery-extortion, serious physical injuries, swindling, and grave coercion among others and these may even be considered as predicate crimes for anti-money laundering.”
The MCAC resolution was also approved by CDC President and CEO Atty. Agnes Devanadera, Mabalacat City Mayor Cris Garbo, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin Jr., and Capas Mayor Roseller Rodriguez.