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POGO ban could result in 22K job losses in Metro Manila: Government

The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has warned that approximately 22,000 Filipinos employed by legal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in Metro Manila may face unemployment if the online gaming companies are banned in the country.

According to a local media outlet, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma noted that inspections were conducted on all legally operating POGO firms in the National Capital Region (NCR) last year. Data collected from these inspections was used to evaluate the potential impact on the labor market.

Laguesma emphasized that shutting down operations of legitimate POGO firms would pose a significant challenge, impacting the employment of numerous workers.

He added that there are also POGO hubs in provinces, particularly in Central Luzon, but these are considered illegal as they are not registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Furthermore, Laguesma mentioned that assistance would be challenging for workers not listed with PAGCOR, contrasting with those previously listed, for whom there is a process to reach out. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has existing programs in place to support affected workers if their companies are closed down.

In addition to Filipino workers, Laguesma noted that thousands of foreign workers in the legal POGO industry might also be affected by the proposed ban.

From January to April 2024 alone, the Labor Department issued approximately 8,000 alien employment permits (AEP) to foreign workers employed by licensed internet gaming operators in the country.

Most of these foreign applicants were Vietnamese, followed by Chinese. There were also Indonesians, Thais, and nationals of other countries seeking permission to work in the online gaming industry in the Philippines.

POGO ban could result in 22K job losses in Metro Manila: Government

Pressure on POGO investors

The uncertainty may affect not only POGO workers but also POGO investors and senior management officers.

The House of Representatives is currently investigating the influx of Chinese nationals working in illegal POGO firms. The investigation also covers their involvement in drug smuggling, acquiring Filipino citizenship using fraudulent documents, money laundering, fraud, kidnap-for-ransom, and other criminal activities.

According to the Philippine News Agency report, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers urged his colleagues in Congress to amend and modernize the outdated Special Investor’s Resident Visa (SIRV) program.

Barbers stated that the country’s special visa is being exploited as a “ticket” by foreign drug syndicates, money launderers, and other criminal elements to establish their operations in the Philippines.

He noted that unscrupulous individuals are abusing the SIRV program of the Board of Investments (BOI), turning the country into a haven for their illegal activities.

According to recent reports, Barbers mentioned that the SIRV program was allegedly used as a means for Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Guo and her parents to enter the country in January 2003 when she was 13 years old.

Records from the BOI and Bureau of Immigration reveal that Alice Guo’s real name was Guo Hua Ping, born on August 31st, 1990.

Alice Guo, also known as the “POGO mayor,” faces various accusations, including human trafficking.

Viviana Chan
Viviana Chanhttps://agbrief.com/
Viviana Chan is an editor, interpreter, and journalist. With over a decade of experience, she writes in English, Chinese, and Portuguese. Viviana started her career in Macau-based newspapers, where she became passionate about the region's social, financial, and cultural development. Her writing focuses on the economy, emerging industries, gaming development, political affairs, and cross cultural-exchange in the business and cultural domains. She is avid for news and eager to discover and cover stories that generate public relevance.

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