Visa cancellation of over 48,000 POGO workers underway
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration has begun processing the visa cancellation of over 48,782 foreign employees of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) whose license to operate have been revoked by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
“Upon receipt of the information from Pagcor, we immediately started cross-checking their employees to determine which ones are still in the country,” Immigration chief Norman Tansingco said in a statement issued on Sunday.
“While this is a laborious task as we have to check each and every record, we are confident that this could be completed in a month.”
With their visas cancelled, the foreign workers will be ordered to leave the country in 59 days. Those who remain beyond 59 days will be deported.
“This is the regular procedure for cancelled visas, and this is actually more economical and faster,” Tansingco said.
The cost of departure will be shouldered by the workers themselves.
Meanwhile, the bureau’s Board of Commissioners has issued a summary deportation order on 372 foreigners, 331 of whom are Chinese and the remaining 41 are of other nationalities.
The 372 foreigners were were rounded up in separate operations of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Pasig and Angeles last September.
The Philippines has turned into a hotbed for Chinese gangsters when Vietnam and Cambodia outlawed Chinese-backed online gambling and overseas casinos that are similar to POGOs, according to Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee, the director of PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
So far the PNP has only only received 27 reports of kidnapping cases, of which, 20 are linked with POGOs, according to the PNP spokesperson, Col. Jean Fajardo.
Lawmakers have been calling on the government outlaw POGOs because it has been linked to a recent spate of kidnappings and other crimes.