Philippine Department of Labor Tightens Oversight on POGO Worker Permits
Amidst growing scrutiny over the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has embarked on a thorough investigation concerning the Alien Employment Permits (AEPs) held by foreign nationals in the industry. This probe addresses concerns about the proper use of AEPs and aims to crack down on any illegal practices.
The examination was announced by DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez during Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon, highlighting the department’s commitment to ensuring that the approximately 42,000 AEPs issued to POGO workers are legally compliant. Undersecretary Benavidez emphasized, “Ideally, these legally issued AEPs must be used properly and correctly. If these POGO workers issued AEPs are found engaged in illegal activities, these are subject to revocation or cancellation. That is the directive of our secretary.”
The investigation comes as part of a broader crackdown on POGOs, which have faced intense criticism and calls for increased regulation. Senator Win Gatchalian has been a vocal advocate for stricter oversight, urging the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to reinforce the issuance of tax identification number (TIN) IDs. His concern is that offshore gambling operators might be using TIN IDs to legalize the employment status of workers potentially involved in criminal activities. As the chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Gatchalian has strongly advocated for the closure of the POGO industry, citing risks and negative social impacts.
This initiative by DOLE signals a significant step towards greater transparency and regulation in the Philippines’ burgeoning online gaming sector. By ensuring that foreign workers in POGOs adhere to the country’s legal standards, DOLE is acting to preserve the integrity of the industry and protect the national interest.