Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the government to impose stricter and more effective regulations on the growing industry of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), which has led to an influx of Chinese businesses and labor into the country.
Hontiveros made the call amid reports that over 130,000 Chinese Pogo workers were unregistered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), as well as reports of exorbitant rental rates for condominiums and other housing units, capitalizing on the entry of a large number of Chinese workers into the country.
“While the entry of more POGOs has brought an undeniable economic boom for some industries, we have to ensure that these establishments comply with our immigration and financial laws and regulations, that they pay the proper taxes, and that there is proper documentation of all Chinese nationals who are coming into our country,” Hontiveros said.
“The government must also guarantee that jobs which Filipino workers are qualified for be made available to us. Along with this, Filipino workers must have the widest access to retraining and retooling programs to keep up with changes in the workplace and develop new skills to respond to modern work life and the dawn of automation,” Hontiveros added.
Regulatory agencies, Hontiveros said, must also address the possible “artificial and unwarranted” rise in prices in the real estate sector due to POGOs.
It was reported that residential rental rates where Chinese-dominated POGOs operate have gone up dramatically. This rate of increase, which is much faster compared to the other central business districts in Metro Manila, is driving up rents, forcing long-time Filipino tenants to give up their housing units.
“As a country with a large number of citizens working abroad, we are not against foreign workers. All we ask is a fair application of our laws. Foreign workers, including Chinese workers, who fully comply with the laws of our land and respect the rights of Filipino workers are very welcome in our country. We demand the same from our countrymen and women working abroad and hosted by foreign countries,” Hontiveros said.
Last March 19, Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 1027 to investigate the POGO industry, update applicable laws and ensure better revenue collection.