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Data on Pogo paint grim picture for PH labor force – Villanueva

Data on Pogo paint grim picture for PH labor force – Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Only two out of every 10 available jobs in the Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogo) industry go to Filipinos, according to Sen. Joel Villanueva.

Citing data from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Villanueva disclosed that as of December 2019, only 17.7% of workers in Pogo establishments are Filipinos while 82.3% are foreigners.

“If legitimate Pogo companies in this sector employ few Filipinos, we can only surmise as to how worse it is in illegal Pogos,” Villanueva said in a statement Monday. “The data we have now is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a grim picture of our labor force.”

In addition, Pagcor reported that out of 243 Pogo-related establishments in the country, only 153 hire Filipino workers, and of the 10 biggest Pogo licensees, six companies have less than 5% Filipinos workers.

According to Villanueva, issues associated with the surge in Pogo operations include payment of correct taxes, rise in real estate prices for both residential and commercial property, increase in crimes involving foreign nationals, and even the entry of fugitives who work in Pogo.

In 2019, Villanueva reported that some Bureau of Immigration (BI) satellite offices charged P5,000 “without official receipt” to expedite the processing of special working permits for foreigners.

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Data from the Department of Labor and Employment and BI show that more than nine out of 10 foreigners carrying alien employment permits and over half of the holders of pre-arranged work visas are foreigners working in the Pogo industry.

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance previously estimated potential tax collection from the sector ranging from P2.5 billion to P3 billion a month.

On Tuesday, the Senate labor committee, which is headed by Villanueva, will resume its investigation into the influx of illegal foreign workers, which he said began in late 2016.

In the hearing, the senator plans to discuss “the country’s lack of a clear labor immigration policy,” which he says allows the unhampered operations of the Pogo industry.

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