The Philippine Star
‘POGO workers going TNT’
A party-list lawmaker yesterday urged the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to take steps in preventing thousands of Chinese nationals working for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) from turning into TNTs or tago nang tago.
TNT is Filipino slang for overstaying aliens or illegal foreign workers who hide from authorities with the intention of
living permanently in their host countries.
Rep. Ronnie Ong of Ang Probinsiyano said he received information that thousands of Chinese POGO workers have abandoned their jobs to go TNT.
He said the Bureau of Immigration has deported hundreds of these illegal residents.
Ong said one way to distinguish Chinese TNTs from legal workers is for Pagcor to issue identification cards to POGO employees.
“These foreign workers can be seen practically everywhere. There are even places where you would think you are in China. I suggest that through Pagcor, these POGO employees should be fully documented and identified not only for the good of the country but also for their own protection,” he added.
Ong pointed out that workers without identifying documents be considered illegal or overstaying and should be deported.
He said POGO personnel could protect themselves from extortionists by showing their Pagcor identification documents.
Ong, vice chairman of the House committee on games and amusement, noted that Pagcor issues employment permits and IDs to industry workers, except POGO employees.
He said the state gaming agency charges workers P4,000 each for their documents, and Pagcor would earn millions in additional income if it issues the same documents to tens of thousands of POGO personnel.
Ong added that the issuance of IDs to POGO workers would also make the job of tax collectors easier.
“We are allowing these POGOs to operate here because we want more revenues. Their Chinese and other foreign employees come here to work, so they should pay taxes as everyone else,” he stressed.
Ong also suggested that the workers be required to pass an online examination on proper behavior, since there is “a rising occurrence of Chinese nationals behaving very badly especially when drunk.”
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has estimated that the country is losing at least P20 billion in taxes from POGOs and their foreign personnel.
The House of Representatives intends to pass a bill on taxing offshore gaming investors and their workers.