By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva called on the labor and immigration officials to find out if the thousands of foreign workers in a shuttered Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO) service provider have proper work documents.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, proposed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also be involved in closing down erring POGOs.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) agents, accompanied by police, closed down Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corporation (Gegac) in Quezon City for operating without a tax registration and failing to settle tax deficiencies. Gegac’s offices in Parañaque City and Subic Freeport were also padlocked.
The POGO operator reportedly has more than 8,100 workers who are mostly Chinese.
“Should our authorities determine that the workers employed there are illegal workers, they must be subjected to deportation immediately,” Villanueva said.
He described the BIR’s joint operation with the Quezon City police as “the kind of synergy that we need from government agencies in enforcing our laws”.
“We are glad that our government has shown firm determination to shutter erring firms that dodge the law,” the senator said.
Villanueva said the closure of Gegac should be a warning to similar firms who flout the country’s tax, labor and immigration laws.
He urged concerned government agencies to strengthen their coordination to end illegal online gambling, illegal foreign workers, and the entry of undesirable aliens in the country.
“We should not be deceived by the expectation of tax from them when what we’ve seen is a sector that tries to avoid and evade our tax system,” he also pointed out.
The BIR said Gegac may resume operations once it pays its taxes.