Pogo hubs to shield legal Chinese workers from harassment, says Pagcor
Foreign nationals working in IT parks that host call centers for the country’s booming online gaming industry will be protected round-the-clock and will have easy access to facilities that will cater to their conveniences, the government’s gambling regulator said.
In a television interview, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said law enforcers would be stationed at the planned Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) hubs to provide protection against any threats to Chinese workers within these complexes.
“The Pogo hub concept was put into implementation because we wanted to protect the foreign workers from being harassed,” Domingo told the ABS-CBN News Channel. “If they are in a hub together with us 24/7, they can always lodge complaints.”
The proposed Pogo hubs—the first one of which is nearing completion in Kawit, Cavite—will have medical facilities to provide health care for the foreign workers, as well as representative offices of Pagcor, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“It was a concept of providing an integrated area where everything is within human scale.”
These foreign workers will also be able to lodge complaints against their employers which will be subject to sanctions by gaming regulators if the complaints are found to be valid.
There are about 138,000 Chinese nationals working legally in the local online gaming industry, which caters to bettors playing games of chance electronically in China. Another 40,000 Chinese workers are estimated to be working in unlicensed, fly-by-night operations which Pagcor is cracking down on.
Domingo stressed that the Pogo hubs were meant to offer convenience to Chinese workers and would not limit their freedom of movement.
“This is like a one-stop shop,” she said. “The BIR will be there, the DOLE will be there, BI will be there, we will be there 24/7, because I think it is our responsibility.”
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III also voiced his support for the creation of online gaming hubs that hosted Pogo call centers and other service providers for easier monitoring and tax collection.
Dominguez said it was easier for the BIR to monitor and collect appropriate taxes if foreign workers were concentrated in one place. Fiscal authorities expect to collect at least P2 billion in personal income taxes per month from these foreign workers.
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