Philippines senate to investigate influx of Chinese online gambling workers

News on 24 Nov 2018

Chinese workers taking online gambling jobs in the Philippines from the locals is once again creating heated debate in the nation following last week’s police action in Pasig City, which resulted in the detention of over a hundred individuals on online gambling charges, 87 of them Chinese nationals (see previous report).

On Friday Sen. Joel Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Labour Committee, told fellow lawmakers that there is an urgent need to halt the growing number of  Chinese nationals entering the Philippines to work illegally in the online gambling industry.

This influx of workers “shamelessly robbed” Filipinos of job opportunities and contravened both gambling and immigration laws, he said in calling for an investigation.

The local publication The Inquirer quoted a statement by Villanueva in which he observed:

“We strongly believe there is a dire need to strengthen legislation and enforcement to stop illegal online gambling and proliferation of illegal Chinese workers that shamelessly robbed our own people of jobs”.

In the Pasig City raids the police found that the online gambling operator did not have a permit to operate as a Philippine offshore gaming operation licensee (Pogo) company, or as a Pogo agent or even as a special business process outsourcing (BPO) company from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

This is not the first time that Philippines politicians have voiced concerns over the numbers of Chinese nationals entering the country; in a September budget hearing of the Department of Labor and Employment  (DOLE) Sen. Franklin Drilon said that Filipinos were being deprived of jobs by the growing incursions of Chinese workers.

Official figures from a 2015 report by DOLE show that around 116,000 foreigners have been issued with alien employment permits, which may be granted if there is no Filipino willing or competent enough to do the job being offered to a foreigner. The permits went mainly to Chinese applicants (45 percent), a trend that continues.

Drilon claimed that there are approximately 400,000 foreign workers in Manila, employed mainly in the online gambling industry. Our readers will also recall that in the 2016 Fontana Leisure Parks bust by Philippines authorities just 235 of the 1,300 Chinese nationals detained had the necessary permission to work and live in the country

The head of the Bureau for Local Emplyment, Dominique Tutay, is on record as saying recently that DOLE will spearhead an inter-agency task force charged with ensuring that only properly documented foreigners work in the Philippines.

The task force is set to begin its work soon and will comprise elements of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Immigration, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and the Professional Regulatory Commission.

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