Foreigners have work permits: DOLE 7 chief

THE police reportedly failed to verify with the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7 the statuses of the 181 Chinese nationals caught in a raid in Lapu-Lapu City on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

Dole 7 Director Salome Siaton said the foreigners’ company, Xin Huang Jin Cheng Co. Ltd. Inc. (XHJC), has a permit to operate. The company’s more than 2,000 Chinese employees were issued alien employment permits (AEP) from the agency, she said.

An AEP usually expires after one year. A foreigner who holds an expired AEP can renew it for an extension, only if he still works for the same company.

lllegal operation

Siaton said there was “no coordination” from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 before and after the raid, which was conducted on the grounds that XHJC, a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (Pogo), was involved in illegal online gambling operations.

However, CIDG 7 Director Lito Patay and Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas maintained that XHJC violated the law.

Sinas said the main issue is the company’s illegal gambling activities, not about its employees’ working permits.

Company’s legality

XHJC has released a statement that it is operating legally as it has a permit from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). The company is an accredited customer relations service provider, and it was issued a certification of accreditation and authority to operate until May 22, 2020. The document was signed by Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo.

Casino Filipino Cebu Branch manager Ricardo Uy said Pogos get their permits from the offshore gaming licensing department of Pagcor.

The raid conducted by the CIDG 7 operatives was authorized by a search warrant issued by a court.

Off-limits to Filipinos

During their surveillance, Patay said, his personnel entered the company’s website and they were able to place their bets. Based on the Pagcor’s manual, Filipino citizens, excluding those working abroad, are not allowed to access online casinos.

“We could not obtain a search warrant if we failed to access its website... The website should not be accessible in a Philippine territory,” he said in Cebuano.

The Chinese workers were charged with violating Presidential Decree 1602, which sets stiffer penalties on illegal gambling, and Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Helping the government

Patay said their operation against XHJC was done to help the government and President Rodrigo Duterte in collecting taxes from online gambling firms that pretend to be business process outsourcing companies.

“During the surveillance, the company had no permit as Pogo. It acted as Pogo, competing with other Pogos that pay the right taxes,” he said.

The police official said his office did not sabotage the economy by raiding XHJC, adding that their efforts against illegal gambling should be acknowledged.

The CIDG 7 is waiting for the decision of the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office on the complaints it filed against the foreigners. FROM HBL & AYB OF SUPERBALITA CEBU / KAL