At least 14,000 foreign workers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations have no working permits as required by the Philippine government and considered as illegal workers, the Labor department said Monday.
Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Tutay said that, for the first semester of the year, 51,000 Alien Employment Permits were issued to POGO workers but, based on an inspection of 177 POGO service providers, 171 of which are based in Metro Manila, 8,000 foreign workers were working without AEPs while 6,000 did not comply with the Bureau of Immigration.
Tutay made his statement even as Rep. Ace Barbers urged a crackdown on what he branded as fake POGOs operating with the approval of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said the 46 did not have business permits to operate in the Philippines and in their countries of origin.
“The alleged ‘kolorum’ POGOs operating in the country may undermine the local anti-money laundering and anti-drug and criminality campaigns,” Barbers said in reference to reports reaching his office that 46 out of the 58 POGOs licensed by the Pagcor were unregistered local or foreign corporations.
The Labor department has submitted the list of all non-compliant foreign workers to the Bureau of Immigration for proper legal action.
To intensify the inspection of POGOs, Tutay also said a special team composed of DOLE, BI and BIR personnel will be formed to inspect all establishments in the country that employ foreign workers.
DOLE NCR Regional Director Sarah Buena Mirasol said they were addressing the influx of AEP applications through additional equipment and manpower.
They are also set to establish an online system for the easier tracking of AEP applications.
“To address the surge in AEP applications, especially for those employed by the POGOs, the Labor department has launched a one-stop-shop at the DOLE National Capital Region,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
The one-stop-shop includes the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Professional Regulation Commission counters for the issuance of Taxpayer Identification Numbers and Special Temporary Permits.
Bello said the one-stop-shop will speed up the applications of AEPs with the help of the BIR, PRC, Bureau of Immigration, and PAGCOR.
“Similar one-stop shops will be established in other AEP application-rich areas such as Cagayan, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Central Visayas, and Davao,” Bello said. With Maricel V. Cruz