Pimentel says China should assist DOJ in deportation of Pogo workers
MANILA, Philippines – China should assist in implementing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) deportation plan to reduce the bottleneck of overstaying workers in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) industry, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel said on Tuesday.
He made this call after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed that at least 216 Pogo companies, which were previously licensed, have stopped paying their dues to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
“With 200 persons per company, it would amount to close to 40,000 people who may be staying in the country illegally. They’re working for a Pogo that’s not anymore licensed,” Remulla said at the Senate finance committee hearing on the DOJ’s proposed 2023 budget.
He then pointed out that the deportation of these illegal Pogo workers has been delayed due to China’s strict and comprehensive protocols.
On top of this, punishments await deported Pogo workers in China since the industry is heavily frowned upon by their government.
Remulla said he would speak to the ambassador of China on Tuesday to discuss the need for the Asian giant to abide by the Philippines’ deportation plan for these Chinese nationals.
With this in mind, Pimentel argued that the Chinese government must be pushed to do its part in intensifying a united crackdown on undocumented Pogo workers.
“Maybe China has to do something not to disincentivize their people from going home voluntarily to their country. Iyon siguro ang pakiusap din natin sa People’s Republic of China kasi ang mangyayari, kung tatakutin nila iyong mga kababayan nila na nandito, ayaw na nila talagang umuwi. Sakit ng ulo natin iyon,” he said.
(Maybe China has to do something not to disincentivize their people from going home voluntarily to their country. This should be our request to the People’s Republic of China because if they just scare their countrymen residing in the Philippines, they’ll be less inclined to go back to China. And that will be a headache on our part.)
The lawmaker later added: “China can lessen the reasons for them not to want to go home. Gawin din natin iyon, kaysa naman sa atin na ang bola. Hindi dapat eh. In the first place, lumabas din naman sila ng China legally from the point of view of China, so they should be allowed to return to their home country.”
(China can lessen their reasons for not wanting to go home. Let’s also do that instead of always having the ball on our court. It shouldn’t be that way. In the first place, the Chinese nationals legally left their country and should be allowed to return to their home country.)
The upper chamber earlier investigated the spate of Pogo-related kidnappings, where the Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. claimed that fear of punishment hinders Pogo workers from reporting abductions to authorities.
The Senate ways and committee, led by its chairman Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, is set to review the government revenues and economic benefits from the existence of Pogos on Thursday.
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