Philippines to cancel 48,782 visas of illegal Chinese workers

Then police chief Ronald dela Rosa (R) stands in front of Chinese and Malaysian suspects (in orange) detained in a kidnapping case, at PNP headquarters in Manila, Philippines on July 20, 2017. Forty-four Chinese and Malaysian suspects engaged in illegal activities have been detained in the Philippines over the kidnapping and beating of a Singaporean woman abducted at a Manila casino, authorities said (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images; Bureau of Immigration/Facebook)
Then police chief Ronald dela Rosa (R) stands in front of Chinese and Malaysian suspects (in orange) detained in a kidnapping case, at PNP headquarters in Manila, Philippines on July 20, 2017. Forty-four Chinese and Malaysian suspects engaged in illegal activities have been detained in the Philippines over the kidnapping and beating of a Singaporean woman abducted at a Manila casino, authorities said (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images; Bureau of Immigration/Facebook)

Instead of doing summary deportations, immigration officials of the Philippines are currently canceling 48,782 visas for foreign workers working for illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

A number of such firms are now being shut down due to their failure to pay license dues to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

Once a worker’s visa is canceled, they have 59 days to voluntarily leave the country. If the workers don’t leave even after the due date, only will the Department of Justice (DOJ) resort to summary deportations.

“Upon receipt of the information from PAGCOR, we immediately started cross-checking their [POGO] employees to determine which ones are still in the country,” Immigration commissioner Norman Tansingco said on Sunday (October 2).

Tansingco highlighted that the cancellation of visas was more efficient compared to immediately resorting to deportation.

“While this is a laborious task as we have to check each and every record, we are confident that this could be completed in a month,” he said. “This is the regular procedure for canceled visas, and this is actually more economical and faster.”

The industry is currently under heat due to what some lawmakers see as a “social cost” to its maintenance, due to the crimes associated with POGOs. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), 20 out of 27 kidnapping cases were related to POGOs.

The Philippines will stand to lose P952 million a day should the entire POGO industry shut down, resulting in bigger social ills, according to an analyst.

But POGOs are also being criticized due to its shrinking revenues. While the government anticipates P32 billion in revenues this year, only P3 billion has been so far collected, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

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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