DOJ troubled over POGO worker deportations

·2 min read
DOJ chief Boying Remulla talks to reporters during a news conference in Cavite, Philippines
FILE PHOTO: Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jose Crispin "Boying" Remulla displays the text message during a news conference on Feb. 3, 2017 in General Trias, Cavite, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla mentioned that the Chinese government terminates the passports of its workers who have been employed in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) firms, making it difficult for deportations to happen.

“The problem right now that we are facing right is the protocol of China in admitting deportations, because they have specific requirements of the testing procedures,” he said on Monday (September 19).

Remulla mentioned that over 200 POGOs were licensed before, but have since not renewed their licenses and even stopped paying dues to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Around 40,000 illegal Chinese nationals are working for POGOs.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel stressed that China had to act on their policy which “disincentivizes their people from going home voluntarily.”

Ang mangyayari, kung tatakutin yung kanilang mga kababayan na nandito, ayaw na talaga umuwi then sakit ng ulo natin yun,” he said.

(What happens is, when they’re scaring their people who are here [in the Philippines], the more it is that they wouldn’t go back home, which gives us a headache.)

Some lawmakers and even President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself are now considering the shutdown of POGOs. And while some government officials are looking into a complete ban on POGOs, Senator Jinggoy Estrada was more on the tolerant side, saying that legal POGOs should be allowed to operate, putting an emphasis on the employment of Filipinos for up to 70 percent.

Sa halagang P5 billion (For the amount of P5 billion), do you want to suffer reputational damage na ang Pilipinas ay pugad ng mga sindikato and mga gangster, dayuhan pa (that the Philippines is a nest for foreign syndicates and gangsters)?” Pimentel said. “Wag na tayo masyadong mukhang pera (Let’s not obsess over money.).

But Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno mentioned that POGO revenues were much smaller. As of today, only P3 billion has been collected, despite having a projected revenue of P32 billion.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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