The deportation of Chinese nationals working in illegal online gaming outlets will start today, October 19, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said.
“The first deportation is set on October 19, with five or six to be initially deported,” Remulla said in a press conference.
He said some “400 more” Chinese POGO workers in custody will also be deported.
“The Bureau of Immigration already canceled the visas of many working at the illegal POGO outlets. The work is ongoing right now,” Remulla said.
The Department of Justice earlier said the BI had already canceled the visas of 1,424 Chinese nationals working in illegal POGO outlets—a fraction of the estimated total of 48,782 employees who have to be sent back to China.
“It was determined by the Bureau of Immigration, through Commissioner Norman Tansingco, that a more cost-efficient and humanitarian approach would be to cancel the visas of the said Chinese nationals. Instead of deporting them, the cancellation of alien visas would simply allow the Chinese nationals to voluntarily exit the country within a non-extendible period of 59 days,” Remulla said.
The DOJ chief said those who refuse to voluntarily leave the country after 59 days will be “summarily deported.”
Meanwhile, Remulla disclosed that “someone from the BI” has recommended giving amnesty to the Chinese nationals working in illegal POGO outlets but he said the process has to be studied first.
He said there is a need to consult with other government agencies on the issue of amnesty to illegal aliens.
“We have to look at this from the practical standpoint, the national standpoint and even the national security standpoint,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday said even licensed POGOs are not paying correct taxes.
“It’s regrettable that even legitimate POGOs are remiss in the payment of correct taxes. This is exactly the reason a tax regime for POGOs was put in place which is to reduce uncollected taxes due the government. It is lamentable that even licensed POGOs continue to disregard accurate payment of taxes,” Gatchalian said.
POGOs have under-declared tax payments to the government as shown by discrepancies between gross gaming revenues the operators submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the senator said.
The senator’s research shows estimated tax leakages of P1.9 billion due to the discrepancy of gross gaming revenue as reported by the BIR and PAGCOR from POGOs from January to August this year.
He said indicative gross gaming revenue from that period, based on 5% gaming tax payments made to the BIR by operators, totaled P28.36 billion.
However, the 2% regulatory fee payments to PAGCOR show indicative gross gaming revenue for the same period at P66.67 billion.
“Research shows that we are not realizing the full benefits of allowing POGO operations in the country. It’s high time we consider
developing other industries that are sustainable, high-yielding, and long-term businesses,” Gatchalian said.