Biz Buzz: Chi­nese be­hav­ing badly

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - —DAXIM L. LU­CAS

It’s an in­dus­try that has boomed al­most overnight, out of which Philip­pine Amuse­ment & Gam­ing Corp. ex­pects to col­lect P6 bil­lion in fees this year. It has also saved the of­fice prop­erty sec­tor from va­can­cies that would have surged as record sup­ply came to mar­ket and helped a lot of con­do­minium de­vel­op­ers in Metro Manila sell more res­i­den­tial units.

But some of the main­land Chi­nese folks man­ning th­ese on­line gam­ing firms—called Po­gos or Philip­pine off­shore gam­ing op­er­a­tors—are start­ing to make build­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion more chal­leng­ing in the me­trop­o­lis. Anec­dotes are in­creas­ing about how the be­hav­ior of some Pogo folks is caus­ing a stir among other build­ing stake­hold­ers.

Be­lieve it or not, there have been cases where some of th­ese for­eign folks use their feet in­stead of hands in press­ing the but­tons on the el­e­va­tor —just be­cause they feel like do­ing so. As such, one of­fice prop­erty stake­holder stated that if they were to al­low Po­gos in their of­fice build­ing, the el­e­va­tor but­tons should be placed on eye level.

Then there are cases when some of th­ese Pogo guys have been caught play­ing card games, specif­i­cally, gam­bling with ac­tual cash bets, in the com­mon ar­eas of some res­i­den­tial con­do­minium tow­ers, in vi­o­la­tion of in-house rules. When called out by se­cu­rity, they pay the fine— no mat­ter how high—then after­wards do the same thing again and again.

But the worst anec­dote we’ve heard is that in some of the of­fice build­ings where the Po­gos op­er­ate, the main­te­nance folks are shocked to find the ve­ran­das, or open ar­eas where of­fice folks go to get some air or smoke, lit­tered with used con­doms. You can just imag­ine what hap­pens when they take a break, and there’s little ef­fort to cover the trail.

Some of­fice de­vel­op­ers have fore­seen the po­ten­tial cul­tural clash when Pogo folks are mixed with other folks and some have de­signed some prop­er­ties in a way where Po­gos have their own lobby and el­e­va­tor. But there’s of course no stop­ping the in­ter­ac­tion, such as in res­i­den­tial con­do­mini­ums (where such seg­re­ga­tion is dif­fi­cult) or even in pub­lic ar­eas like su­per­mar­kets or restau­rants.

Given th­ese birth pains, and if we as­sume that Po­gos are here to stay (for as long au­thor­i­ties wel­come them), maybe there’s a way for Pag­cor and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment units to com­pel their Pogo li­censees to train their for­eign staff on lo­cal norms so that they can be better in­te­grated into the me­trop­o­lis. —DORIS DUMLAOABADILLA

Tenth an­niver­sary blues

Thou­sands of young Chi­nese work­ers have swarmed into the Philip­pines—100,000 ac­cord­ing to one es­ti­mate—over the last two years to work in the coun­try’s boom­ing on­line gam­ing in­dus­try, which caters pri­mar­ily to gam­blers from China.

Word on the street is that most of th­ese work­ers come to the Philip­pines on tourist visas, with their pa­pers then pro­cessed into of­fi­cial work­ing per­mits only after they land. And their pa­pers are pro­cessed —and ap­proved—“in batches of thou­sands,” ac­cord­ing to one per­son fa­mil­iar with the op­er­a­tion.

Back­ground checks? Just a cur­sory process, maybe.

Key of­fi­cials and en­gi­neers of State Grid Cor­po­ra­tion of China have no such luck, how­ever.

Their of­fi­cials and tech­ni­cal per­son­nel still have to go through a tor­tur­ous vet­ting process with the Bureau of Im­mi­gra­tion in a process that can take sev­eral weeks, at least, or sev­eral months, at most.

State Grid, of course, owns 40 per­cent of Na­tional Grid Cor­po­ra­tion of the Philip­pines, the com­pany that holds a 25- year con­ces­sion to run the power dis­tri­bu­tion net­work of the en­tire coun­try. NGCP is 60 per­cent Filipino-owned (split down the mid­dle be­tween

Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coy­i­uto Jr.) with the Chi­nese firm tak­ing up the bal­ance.

NGCP re­lies on the tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise of Chi­nese en­gi­neers who are well-versed with the art and sci­ence of trans­mit­ting elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated in West­ern China thou­sands of kilo­me­ters to the con­sumers in the east­ern cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai.

In­ci­den­tally, the part­ner­ship be­tween NGCP and State Grid has hit a mile­stone by turn­ing a decade old this year, and State Grid of­fi­cials note that the Philip­pines was the first for­eign in­vest­ment of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-owned firm. Since its 2007 foray abroad, State Grid now holds key stakes in the power dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems in Brazil, Por­tu­gal, Aus­tralia, Hong Kong, Italy and Greece.

State Grid’s 40-per­cent stake in the win­ning $3.95-bil­lion bid for NGCP re­mains, to this day, the sin­gle big­gest Chi­nese in­vest­ment in the Philip­pines.

But re­stric­tions put in place by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion —os­ten­si­bly meant to pro­tect the coun­try’s na­tional se­cu­rity —still make it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for their per­son­nel to se­cure work per­mits in the Philip­pines. So when­ever they see their young com­pa­tri­ots com­ing to work in the lo­cal on­line gam­ing in­dus­try by the thou­sands, and with ap­par­ent ease, State Grid’s en­gi­neers can only scratch their heads in frus­tra­tion and envy.

Oh, and the work per­mits they get are good for only a few months. Upon ex­pi­ra­tion, they have to re­peat the long ap­pli­ca­tion process all over again. Go fig­ure.

E-mail us at bizbuzz@in­quirer.com.ph. Get busi­ness alerts and a pre­view of Biz Buzz the even­ing be­fore it comes out. Text ONINQ BUSI­NESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.