A party-list lawmaker stressed the need to establish a system to monitor and identify the growing number of foreign nationals employed in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) in the country.
In an interview, Ang Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong, vice-chair of the House committee on games and amusements, said the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) will start issuing Gaming Employment License (GEL) identification cards to all foreign POGO workers in January.
“We cannot pretend anymore that POGO industry is small.”
“We cannot pretend anymore that POGO industry is small. We should have a system to monitor them. That’s why we are pushing for the GEL ID,” Ong said.
“The recent kidnapping incident of POGO workers in Makati [could have been prevented] if we have monitoring system and if they have GEL ID,” the legilator added.
The lawmaker explained that the issuance of GEL IDs would not only help the government properly monitor the number of foreign POGO workers, but would also help the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in its tax mapping for the POGO sector.
“They will be able to pay the right taxes.”
“Also, somehow this GEL ID will benefit the country because if we can monitor them, they will be able to pay the right taxes,” he added.
Ong said the GEL being issued at a cost of P4,000 per individual is considered a certificate and not a physical ID which can help immigration and law enforcement personnel distinguish those who are licensed and those who are not.
Currently, there are over 200 POGO service providers with over 100,000 foreign workers operating in the Philippines.