House panel sets inquiry on POGO

THE House Committee on Games and Amusement is set to look into the issues concerning the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

Committee chairman ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Yap assured the public that the best interest of the country will be paramount in the inquiry.

Yap likewise said it is high time to support the move to establish a hub for the gambling operations.

“It will be easier for our government to monitor POGO workers and deter commitment of crimes in the process,” Yap said.

Yap said that government should regulate the entry of the Chinese nationals working in POGO hubs as it will be easier for the Philippine government to document and monitor the illegal entry of workers and the payment of their taxes.

Pointing out that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) need to secure necessary working permits and pay their taxes, Yap said the government should also require the same for foreign workers who wish to work in the country particularly in the online gaming industry.

“ I call on our government agencies — Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine National Police — to ensure that their presence will be in these integrated and secluded communities for POGO operations,” Yap said.

“Their presence should obliterate any doubts on the protection of the fundamental rights of the Chinese workers and ensure that their liberties will not be taken away from them. We call on other countries to protect the rights of our OFWs and we will adhere with that by doing the same for the foreign workers,” he added.

In proposing hubs for POGO, Yap said secluded areas for POGO operations means that Chinese nationals won’t need to go to other areas often as these hubs are envisioned to be a community that will include everything that they may need for normal living.

The solon also said that government will not restrict their movement and they will still have the freedom to go to different places.

However, Yap said Chinese nationals should be reminded that they need to obey our laws and unruly behavior will not be tolerated.

POGO hubs will also address the reported increase in number of crimes, particularly kidnap for ransom cases involving Chinese nationals, by having a more secure environment for the foreign workers with law enforcement agencies in gaming hubs, the solon said.