The PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group has recorded six POGO-related kidnappings since January this year, where employers kidnapped their workers who wanted to go back to China after they felt shortchanged. It also documented a total of 36 casino-related kidnappings from January to November, higher by 125 percent than last year’s 16 cases.
STAR/File
House to probe crimes involving POGO workers
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - December 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will conduct an investigation on crimes involving workers in the Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) industry, a ranking lawmaker bared yesterday.

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the committee on games and amusements, said they would look into rising cases of kidnapping involving Chinese nationals working in POGOs.

“We will invite the PNP (Philippine National Police) and even NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to specifically address numerous reported crimes involving POGO workers,” he told The STAR.

Yap said their panel would pursue this issue by expanding their ongoing congressional inquiry on the regulation of the industry.

The House panel made the move following the abduction of Chinese POGO worker Zhou Mei by three fellow Chinese men in Makati’s financial district, which was caught on video last Dec. 9.

Zhou, 28, was seen being dragged by the three into a gray Kia Carnival at the corner of Paseo de Roxas avenue and Nieva street.

The PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group has recorded six POGO-related kidnappings since January this year, where employers kidnapped their workers who wanted to go back to China after they felt shortchanged. It also documented a total of 36 casino-related kidnappings from January to November, higher by 125 percent than last year’s 16 cases.

The panel started the inquiry last week and found that the government does not have a consolidated figure as to the number of foreign POGO workers in the country. Lawmakers called out agencies over the discrepancies and told them to shape up and get their acts together in order to properly regulate the industry.

Yap slammed the lack of coordination between Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) as well as the insufficient efforts of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to run after delinquent POGOs.

During the hearing, Pagcor reported 92,897 foreign POGO workers in the country based on the gaming regulator’s data. But the BI listed only 44,768 foreign workers in the industry as of Oct. 31 while the DOLE recorded 71,532 workers.

Yap also called the attention of the BIR after finding that only 10 out of 62 legitimate POGO firms are paying taxes.

He said their inquiry would proceed for the purpose of coming up with measures to address numerous issues surrounding the POGO industry. His panel is not inclined to call for a temporary halting of POGO operations in the country but will push for retroactive payment of tax obligations and other penalties for erring operators and employees.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PHILIPPINE OFFSHORE GAMING OPERATORS POGO
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