MORE government crackdown against tax-evading Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) will ensue once the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) updates this month its master list of workers in the said industry.
This was among the decisions of the interagency task force for POGO issues in its meeting last week.
DOLE said it is now in the process of of validating the submitted list of personnel of POGOs, which includes both locals and foreign nationals.
“We have different mandates and protocols in doing inspection hence we need cross-validation of data prior to inspection,” Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) Director Dominique R. Tutay told the BusinessMirror. “We were given two weeks for this.”
As of June, the labor department said that of the registered 83,999 POGO workers nationwide, about 13,856 are Filipinos, while 70,130 are foreign nationals.
However, the DOLE said the list needs to be validated in the second half of the year since some of the covered foreigners may have not complied with a new government regulation on work permits signed last May or already have expired work permits.
Tutay said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will use the updated list to to go after erring POGO firms.
“When we give them the validated list, it is enough signal for them to conduct their raid,” Tutay said.
Last week, the BIR shutdown the operation of Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Gegac), a POGO firm, after it failed to pay P1.3 billion worth of taxes.
The BIR lifted the closure against Gegac after it committed to pay the sum within three months.
The interagency is now crafting the guidelines for similar raids in the future.
IN a related development, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he already ordered the inspection of the establishment in Cavite amid reports some of its Chinese workers became sick.
Last Thursday, 39 Chinese workers from Kawit, Cavite, were reported to have been rushed to the hospital due to food poisoning.
He said the probe will determine of the said workers have the necessary Alien Employment Permit (AEP).
An AEP is a document issued by the labor department allowing foreign nationals to work in the country beyond six months.
Bello lamented that they could do little if the Chinese workers will indeed be proven not to have AEP.
Currently, the labor chief said they could only ask the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to cancel the franchise of the erring POGO.
As for the FNs without any AEP, he said they could only endorse them to the Bureau of Immigration for possible deportation.
Bello said he already asked lawmakers to provide them with additional powers to shutdown such erring POGOs.