MANILA, Philippines — The country’s largest organization of online gaming service providers on Tuesday sought to quell criticism that it owes the government taxes, saying its member firms pay all required regulatory fees and corporate and withholding taxes of its workers.
In a statement, the Accredited Service Providers Association of Pagcor (ASPAP) said the companies it represents have been faithfully complying with tax laws even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that caused the shutdown of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations that it provides services to.
“We pay taxes and we will continue to pay. Period,” ASPAP said.
The group said it issued the statement to belie allegations that classifying online gaming service providers as business process outsourcing enterprises — which would allow them to operate during the enhanced community quarantine period — would result in substantial revenue losses for the government.”
The group added that its members are “just like any Philippine-based companies who want to help government raise funds to fight the pandemic.”
“Although many will disagree, it’s a fact that online gaming operations, even on a limited basis, is the easiest way to raise money to feed the poor amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” ASPAP said.
The group’s members provide third party support services to POGO firms for a fee, and are “distinct and separate from POGOs in the same way that local BPOs are distinct from their foreign-based clients.”
“Like any BPO, we provide IT and software development services, call center and telemarketing assistance, back office support and maintenance services,” the group said. “While we also provide specialized services like ‘live dealer’ video streaming, ASPAP members do not solicit bets because this is the turf of POGOs which have special licenses from Pagcor.”
ASPAP said its members opted not to seek incentives or any tax breaks from government from the onset, explaining that while some members are renting office spaces in PEZA-registered buildings, they are not PEZA- or Board of Investment-registered enterprises.
These PEZA or BOI registrations are “only for those who want to pay less taxes to government,” it stressed.
The group added that if BOI and PEZA have their licensed BPOs, it sees no reason why PAGCOR can’t have its own accredited BPO companies.
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