Friday, August 15, 2008

Philippine Amusing Gambling Corporation: untouchable and non-taxable

Such are the awesome and troublesome attributes of PAGCOR. Directly under Malacañang with but a staff function, it becomes understandable though unacceptable that the government gambling corporation appears ultimately untouchable. But for it to claim exemption from paying not only income tax but also value-added taxes is not only interesting but also intriguing.

According to reports, PAGCOR owes the Bureau of Internal Revenue no less than of P6.8 billion of as the end of year 2007 (cf. PDI, 8 August 2008, A13). It is further said that BIR has been thus engaging PAGCOR to pay 1.8 billion pesos for income tax and 5 billion pesos as value-added tax it owes them for the last three years.

Irrespective of what the law says in this particular issue, to say that PAGCOR refuses to pay E-VAT is not only deplorable but also unconscionable. Why?

First, PAGCOR expressly professes and repeatedly advertises that its many and different gambling activities are in support of social projects basically intended for the common welfare of the citizens, the poor and less fortunate in particular. If that is the case, why will it refuse to pay E-VAT which is adamantly and repeatedly said as primarily intended to help the indigent and miserable in the country?

Second, no less than Malacañang itself officially and profusely claims the E-VAT is meant to help the poor, to subsidize the cost of their basic needs, to lighten their economic woes. This is precisely why it is unyielding in demanding E-VAT and unbending in its posture of maintaining E-VAT despite appeals from many citizens and different organizations alike.

Third, Tomas, Pedro and Maria, Bugoy, Penpen and Nene, the young, the old and the elderly, the poor, the sick and the beggars – all some 88 million Filipinos are obliged to pay E-VAT to the government through the BIR. And PAGCOR exempts itself from paying the universal, insistent and continuous tax paid by the citizens of the Philippines from birth to death? Where is sanity and reason here? Where is truth and fair – play?

It is just right for the Department of Finance through BIR to remain insistent in obliging PAGCOR to pay taxes as all Filipinos do – more so if the taxes would go to the so called Malacañang social funds, and/or to the pockets of certain public officials. Given the above mentioned instances, one can definitely claim that this is not PAGCOR corporate accountability--neither is it a social responsibility.

August 15, 2008