THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) will cancel the visas of Chinese workers employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) whose licenses have been cancelled by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) following their alleged involvement in high crimes like kidnapping for ransom.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) pointed out that cancelling the visas of more than 48, 000 Chinese POGO workers is the “more cost- efficient and humanitarian approach” instead of deporting them.
“Instead of deporting them, the cancellation of alien visas would simply allow the Chinese Nationals to voluntarily exit the country within a non-extendible period of 59 days,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The Bureau of Immigration is set to cancel 48,782 alien visas. The Bureau is currently verifying whether these Chinese POGO workers are currently still in the country or have already left.
“To be clear, it is only after the Chinese Nationals refuse to leave the country within the allowable period that summary deportation will be resorted to.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) are in close coordination to ensure a successful and smooth operation, ” the DOJ said.
“The Department is aware of the effects this operation may have on the economy. However, given the many reports of murder, kidnapping and other criminal activities, the social cost of keeping illegal aliens heavily outweighs the projected effect it will have on the affected industries. Even so, the Department will be sure to coordinate with the National Economic team to counter any negative effects on the country, ” it added.
Recently, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said that Pagcor has already stopped the operation of 175 illegally-operating POGOs.
“As per as list na binibgay po ng PAGCOR, umabot na po ng 175 ang kinansela na POGOs. That is as of Sept. 14, 2022. Hindi pa natin alam kung ilan pa yung legal na nag-o-operate dito…” Clavano said.
The POGO industry had its heyday in the early years of the Duterte administration, but it’s growth was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
POGOs are online gambling firms that operate in the Philippines but cater to customers outside the country. To operate legally, they must be licensed by PAGCOR.