A first batch of more than 300 Chinese nationals left jobless due to the closure of around 175 Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) firms are set to be deported either before the end of September or next month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said after meeting with Chinese embassy officials.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that he met with the embassy officials yesterday afternoon to discuss procedures on the summary deportation of over 300 Chinese POGO workers already overstaying in the country.
Remulla said that they are still exchanging information with the Chinese embassy on how the deportation will be done, especially regarding requirements of both countries as far as COVID-19 protocols are concerned.
Asked on the commitment of the Chinese government, Remulla said they agreed “on matters that have to be agreed upon” as he emphasized that both the Philippines and China have to follow protocols in deporting their respective nationals.
He added that they still have to verify the identities of all the Chinese nationals and validate information about their stay in the Philippines before the summary deportation takes place as he assured the public that the DOJ will obey the law in moving the foreigners out.
“Hopefully by the end of this month or first week of October we can start (deporting Chinese nationals). And there will be more than 300. I think we have to move on others also at a proper time,” he added.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should subject all POGO firms to labor inspection in compliance with Philippine labor laws, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said yesterday.
In a statement, Deputy Speaker and TUCP Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza stressed that the DOLE should focus on the POGO workers’ rights and occupational health and safety.
The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition echoed TUCP’s sentiments calling for the government to provide humane treatment to foreign workers, particularly those from the POGO industry.
Contrary to present popular perception, kidnap-for-ransom activities involving Chinese nationals connected with POGOs started in 2017 during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte, according to Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the dangerous drugs committee of the House of Representatives.
Barbers revealed that data from the Philippine National Police showed 31 KFR cases involving Chinese nationals from 2017 to November 2019.
“And most of the cases transpired in the vicinity of the so-called ‘Entertainment City’ where casinos and online gaming are located,” the Surigao del Norte second district congressman said.
“Aside from abduction cases, crimes such as murder, prostitution, torture, extortion, usurious loan-shark, suicide, and illegal drug trafficking involving Chinese nationals transpired in said period,” Barbers disclosed, adding that there had also been indications in the past that Chinese drug syndicates are utilizing online gambling facilities as fronts for illegal trade based on police reports.