Around 22,000 Filipinos working in legal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in Metro Manila might lose their jobs should the online gaming companies be banned in the country, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said that last year, they inspected all the legally operating POGO firms in the National Capital Region (NCR) and based on the inspection, they gathered data for the profiling of workers who will be affected by the possible POGO ban.

“Meron tayong malaking hamon o suliranin na kakaharapin dahil kung tuluyang magsasara ang mga operasyon ng mga lehitimong mga kumpanya, siyempre mapipinsala ang employment ng ating mga manggagawa,” he said in a Super Radyo dzBB interview.

(We have a big challenge or problem to face if the operations of legitimate POGO firms will be closed, because it will affect the employment of some workers.)

“Kaya nagkaron ng ganyang klaseng hakbang para makita kung anong klaseng intervention ang pwedeng ipagkaloob ng DOLE kung sakaling matuloy ang closure ng mga kumpanyang ito,” he added.

(This step was taken to see what kind of intervention DOLE can provide to workers if the closure of the POGO companies pushes through.)

Laguesma said that the priority for the profiling are Filipino workers who are working in about 50 legitimate POGO companies in Metro Manila.

He said that there are also POGO hubs in provinces, particularly in Central Luzon, but these are considered illegal as they are not registered with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

“‘Yun dating nakalista sa PAGCOR, meron tayong kaparaanan para ma-reach out sila. Pero ‘yung mga hindi nakalista, ‘yun siguro ang malaking hamon. Doon sa mga dating nakalista na medyo nagkaron ng adverse effect ‘yung paghihinto ng kanilang operation, may intervention na isinagawa at gagawin pa ang DOLE batay sa mga programa na existing sa ating tanggapan,” Laguesma said.

(Those who were previously listed in PAGCOR, we have a way to reach them out. But for those who were not listed, that would be a big challenge for us. For workers who were listed and were affected by the closure of their companies, the DOLE has existing programs for them.)

The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) said last week that there are around 300 POGOs illegally operating in the country.

Aside from Filipinos, the Labor chief noted that there are also thousands of foreigners who are working in the legal POGO industry who may be affected by the proposed ban.

From January to April 2024 alone, the Labor Department issued around 8,000 alien employment permits (AEP) to foreign workers employed in licensed internet gaming operators in the country.

Laguesma said that most of these foreign applicants were Vietnamese, followed by Chinese. There were also Indonesian, Thai, and other nationalities who sought permission to work in the online gaming industry in the Philippines.

Several lawmakers, both in the Senate and House of Representatives, have been pushing for the ban of POGOs in the country amid the crimes being linked to them.

Even the Chinese Embassy in Manila also said that POGOs should be outlawed as they have become havens for various crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking, and murder. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News

This article DOLE: Possible POGO ban to affect jobs of 22K Filipinos in NCR was originally published in GMA News Online.

2024-06-20T04:11:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd