Citing results of a Pulse Asia survey, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said majority of the Filipino people believed that the existence of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) is harmful to the country.
Meanwhile, Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez said Filipino and foreign employees working in the POGOs who would be affected by the closure of their companies are entitled to benefits.
“The survey results are an important piece of data that we will take into consideration as the data represents the sentiments of our people and provides relevant insights on the issue at hand,” the senator said.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee of Ways and Means, has been spearheading inquiries on the POGO operations in the country, particularly on the gaming facilities economic benefits as opposed to social costs.
During the latest hearing held on Monday, Gatchalian inquired how the POGOs were being taxed.
Gatchalian said earlier his panel will come out with a report within this week, but the report was delayed due to further inquiries on POGO operations.
In the Pulse Asia survey, respondents were asked about their sentiments on whether the POGOs were beneficial or harmful to the country. At least 58 percent of the respondents said they think the operation of POGOs was deleterious to the country.
Gatchalian noted the overall sentiment is reflected across location and class, based on the survey.
In terms of location, 61 percent of the respondents in the National Capital Region, 55 percent were from other parts of Luzon thought negatively of the POGOs. The same opinion was aired by 53 percent of the respondents in the Visayas, and 67 percent of those in Mindanao.
In terms of social class, 70 percent in the ABC classes rejected the POGOs, along with 58 percent in the D class, and 44 percent in the E sector.
The respondents cited as their main reason the alleged proliferation of vices spawned by the POGOs, as well as the POGO-related crime incidents in the country.
By contrast, only 19 percent of the respondents favored the existence of the POGOs.
Ironically, only 12 percent of those in favor came from the NCR, where a significant number of POGOs operated.
In terms of class, 10 percent of the 19 percent of those who gave the POGOs the thumb up sign beneficial is broken down belonged to the ABC class, 20 percent in the D class, and 27 percent in the E class.
“The labor code covers all workers who work in the Philippines, whether you are a foreigner or a Filipino. Programs that we have mentioned, if the foreign worker wants to avail, it can be done.
Especially for the payment of separation pay, and unemployment insurance if they are qualified, they can get that because that is stipulated by law,” Undersecretary Benavidez said in a Laging Handa briefing.
A separation pay is equivalent to one month’s salary of the worker per year of service while with unemployment insurance provided by the Social Security System (SSS), the worker is entitled to a benefit that is equivalent to half of the average maximum monthly credit that can be claimed within two months from separation.
Benavidez also noted that the DOLE has an employment facilitation program that aims to find the same job for the affected workers.
“Refer to specific companies or ask for help from Public Employment Service Office (PESO) for the job vacancy list. If retraining is needed, they can upskill. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is again part of the DOLE,” he said.
The agency is also offering a livelihood program, he added.
“If you don’t want to look for a job and want to build a business, we have a program that can give them seed capital. It is P30,000. A small amount to others but a big help to those who will lose their jobs,” he added.
He said the affected employee may also apply for an emergency employment for at least 10 days up to three months under Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged / Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program.
Benavidez said some 25,000 workers, most of whom are customer service representatives or dealers/agents, may be affected once the POGOs cease operations in the country.