POGOs are going to be investigated by a Senate panel for hiring unregistered foreign workers, not paying taxes, and non-complying with immigration and labor laws. POGOs investigation will be the Senate’s priority throughout the next legislative session beginning Jan 20.
A Senate Panel Will Investigate POGOs to Help Legislation
The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) industry (POGOS are firms which operate in the Philippines but cater to customers outside the country) will be investigated by the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development as soon as the legislative session is restarted. That was announced by the committee’s chairman, Senator Joel Villanueva.
According to information released by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) as of December 10, 2019, 83,764 out of 111,583 issued Alien Employment Permits turned out to be for POGO-related establishments. On top of that, out of 118,239 registered workers holding such permits, 97,283 are foreigners.
Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva explained that it is necessary that the committee to conduct the investigation in order to help the legislation with the unusual influx of illegal foreign workers in the country, especially in the POGO industry.
This inquiry has become possible after the Senator has filed Senate Resolution No. 67 in the aim to also investigate POGO workers that are not registered.
P24 billion are not paid every year for every 100,000 unregistered workers. The committee will also look for the reasons leading to the industry’s incapability of remitting taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The committee, led by Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda of Albay’s second district, has also passed House Bill No. 5777. The main purpose of the bill’s approval is to tax alien individuals employed in offshore gaming companies thus helping the government collect P20 billion to P45 billion from taxes.
Lawmakers Are Addressing Concerns over Security Threats Caused by POGOs
It also turns out that there are numerous abductions in the gaming sector, mainly of Chinese nationals. The Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group announced 36 kidnappings in casinos for the period between January and November 2019.
It comes as no surprise then that Similarly to Sen. Villanueva Senate, President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto and Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian have filed resolutions leading to investigation of the POGO industry.
Apart from the resolutions that have already been filed, there are several pending at the House Committee on Labor and Employment.
Bottom line, the main goal of the committee is to conduct and investigation to find out whether the benefits of the industry outweigh its direct and indirect adverse effects which are rising criminality, threat of money laundering, growing property prices and others.