So Long, Santa – Manila Bulletin



My seasons change, You stay the same! You are the God of all my days. John Hall and Jayson Ingram

Hello summer to a hot, hello water shortage, short tempers, shortened showers, dry lawns, and for many, water rationing!

Let’s all pray for rain! Better water management, and end to deforestation.

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COMING TOGETHER. A reunion of classmates in Bella Vista , from left, seated, Sister Marilou Noel, the author, Liler Calderon Clemente, Alice Canlas Avancena. Standing: Aida Sevilla, Linda Los Banos Cajucom, Dian Cruz Regudo, Beth Javier Africa, and Dr. Chona Abella Relloza.

COMING TOGETHER. A reunion of classmates in Bella Vista , from left, seated, Sister Marilou Noel, the author, Liler CalderonClemente, Alice Canlas Avancena. Standing: Aida Sevilla, Linda Los Banos Cajucom, Dian Cruz Regudo, Beth Javier Africa, and Dr. Chona Abella Relloza.

The hardest thing to let go, believe it or not, is my Christmas set-up in our home in Tagaytay. Don’t snicker. It’s a serious decision with me.

My husband Sonny who would have been 80 this March 20 had the Lord not called him home, was a Christmas person. He loved the season, what it meant, and all the loving and happiness that went with it. So we usually begin decorating November and take everything down to pack them in the attic after his birthday on March 20.

This meant the sparkling lights, the poinsettias, the manger, the angels, Santa Claus, and the gift giving. Most of all, it meant putting up the Christmas village of three decades ago. We collect whatever figurines, mini churches, lighthouses, merrymakers, skating rinks, carousels, tiny houses that light up, trees, and other stuff which to us meant adding more tables to let our “village” grow.

My kids have been wonderful getting me knick knacks and stuff for my tree which is now loaded with tinsel stars, angels, balls collected over the years. My village is and will always be a labor of love, a tribute to our own Mr. Christmas!

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For the last five years, my nephew lawyer Jovi Rivera came with his family to put up the village set in the snow-capped mountain. This was especially when his uncle Sonny was gone and he felt I needed comfort during the season. This year, however, his busy schedule couldn’t accommodate a weekend in November to put up the village  and the task fell on my trusty manang Nating and her husband, Michael. I kibitzed a lot but the décor and village, I owe to them.

To bid goodbye until Christmas season rolls around, I asked my Maryknoll high school and college gang mates to come up and take a last look, and they did. Thank you Dian Cruz Regudo, Dr. Chona Abella Relloza, Linda Los Banos Cajucom, Aida Sevilla Mendoza, Sister Mariou Noel, Beth Javier Africa, Alice Canlas Avancena, and our balikbayan , Lilia Calderon Clemente, renowned stockbroker and investment consultant from New York.

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Just recently, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III stated that the government has about R3 billion worth of monthly income tax collectibles from foreign nationals working in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO).

To shed light to the role of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in this issue, being the government agency that regulates gaming in the country including the POGO licensees and their accredited service providers, we learned the following:

1. POGO operations is a big and multi-faceted industry. For it to develop, it entails employment and necessitates other industries such as real estate, service as in food and transportation, construction, telecommunication, to name a few. While gaming operations fall within the ambit of the gaming industry, thereby subjecting the same to pertinent regulatory bodies such as PAGCOR, other components of operations fall under the jurisdiction of afore-cited sectors making each component subjected to the regulation of each concerned government agencies.

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2. Taxation of licensed operators is undertaken by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In support to their thrust, they require applicants for offshore gaming licenses submission of their company registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in view of the latter’s requirement for a Tax Identification Number.

3. Foreign workers, meanwhile, are regulated by both the Department of Labor and Employment and the Bureau of Immigration. For their part, PAGCOR upholds lawful employment. Employing undocumented foreign workers by licensed operations and their accredited service providers is  a violation warranting imposition of demerits, fines, and other administrative penalties, without prejudice to suspension of operations and/or cancellation of license or accreditation.

 4. Since 2016, POGO operations have been contributing significantly to PAGCOR’s overall revenues— which eventually go to the government’s coffers and various mandated beneficiaries. In 2016, POGO operations generated P657 million followed by P3.924 billion in 2017 and P7.365 billion in 2018.

POGO Licensees are required to uphold responsible gaming in the conduct of their operations and production of games.

In summary, we think that the developing offshore gaming industry should be regulated but not without the aid of appropriate government agencies. Technical working group discussions and inter-agency communications are being observed among government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration and other law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation.

PAGCOR stresses that it takes part in this inter-agency coordination by providing requested information necessary for the fulfillment of mandate of the concerned government agency.

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5. PAGCOR also expressed its commitment to uphold the integrity of gaming in the country. By partaking in inter-agency efforts in regulating offshore gaming operations, PAGCOR has always supported the government’s policy of equitable and progressive taxation, lawful employment, and promotion of public welfare.

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