POGO in Cebu
A few months back, a friend invited me to the launch of a residential and condominium hotel in Lapulapu City. It was not an ordinary event in the sense that the property developer was not some topnotch real estate corporation but rather a group of young and dynamic professionals composed of engineers, architects, financial advisors, brokers, builders, market consultants, service providers, environmental consultants including lawyers conversant with getting government approval for all sorts of permits related to property development.
Because the project had an “organic” vibe to it, the launch attracted a lot of interest. As the conversation during lunch progressed, I gathered that the condominium and residential units had been cornered by a Chinese group and that only a few units were actually left for the local market.
My thoughts walked back to this event when I heard that eight days ago the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG 7) rounded more than 180 Chinese, Thai and Korean nationals for allegedly engaging in illegal activity in Lapulapu City.
The raid conducted by elements of CIDG 7 was preceded by eight months of surveillance after receiving reports that the Xin Huang Jin Chen Company, Ltd. was engaged in online gambling minus a license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the state regulator for Philippine Offshore and Gaming Operators POGO.
Apparently, the huge number of foreign nationals occupying the 12-storey building of a high-end enclave in Lapu-Lapu City caught the attention of people living around the property. It is possible that infractions committed by the foreign nationals must have irked other leasees prompting police echelon to conduct surveillance.
When authorities raided the building, did they visit PAGCOR’s official website to check whether the company is in the roster of licensed POGOs? The PAGCOR list was not arranged in alphabetical order but nevertheless, there were only two POGOs whose registered names begin with the letter X: Ximax Holdings and Xionwei Technology Company.
Xin Huang must be a top flight POGO if we listen to CIDG or a business process outsourcing if we go by the statements of the company lawyer. The office sits on a property with a private beachfront, a scenario that contemplates the best of both worlds.
This is why Senator Win Gatchalian is irked by the POGO system. He decries illegal workers enjoying generous perks but dodge payment of taxes. They even have the nerve to discriminate against Filipinos from entering restaurants that cater to POGO workers in the capital region.
Senator Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Economic Affairs, is set to initiate a probe on the workings of POGOs which has supposedly generated P356 million in taxes but owes the BIR P2 billion to P4 billion. And that is apart from the slew of problems this system has brought to the country.
Tomorrow will be eventful for Cebu People’s Multi Purpose Cooperative (A Transport Service Co-op) as it leads the launch and blessing of the first fleet of brand new, environment friendly and aircon public utility buses at the Plaza Indepencia.
Fourteen units of aircon buses called “People’s Jeep” will be rolled out to announce that Cebu People’s Co-op is on board the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). The co-op has earmarked P400 million to acquire 200 units of modern buses that will ply Cebu City and metropolitan areas.
The PUVMP legal framework is embodied in Department of Transportation DOTr order 2017-011. It calls for the phase out of all aging and ragtag jeepneys and reform the public transport system. The original deadline was last March 2019 but transition has been quite complicated, so it was extended to another year. The deadliest deadline, as punsters call it, for the modernization of all public transport vehicles is June 2020.
At the helm of the transport co-op enterprise is Macario “Yoyong” Quevedo. He is lucky to have on his side, Atty. Gary Maningo who not only knows the terrain of the public transport but also the investment component of the business.
Huge congratulations, Cebu People’s Co-op!
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