The Philippine Star

‘POGO work­ers go­ing TNT’

- By JESS DIAZ Philippine Amusement and Gaming · China · Congress of the United States · Immigration and Naturalization Service · Carlos Dominguez

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.

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