FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez said that he will pursue the closure of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) companies employing foreign nationals without work permits, after learning that 12,000 foreigners are currently in the country without the proper authorization.

A statement issued by the Department of Finance (DoF) Monday noted that the Department of Labor and Employment) identified 12,000 foreigners working here without permits, employed across 33 POGOs, out of 148 establishments inspected.

Mr. Dominguez asked the Bureau of Immigration to cooperate with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to resolve the problem of foreign workers who are in the country unlawfully.

“This is a crime. It’s a violation of the law,” Mr. Dominguez who was speaking to the concerned government agencies, was quoted as saying in the statement.

“For the next meeting, we would like to see movement on the assessment, we would like to see inspections and closure of establishments with illegal workers. So we’d like to see progress. And you know, if there are 12,000 that you found, there must be a lot more, a lot more who are floating around,” Mr. Dominguez said.

Earlier, the DoF asked PAGCOR to require all POGOs to register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) as a prerequisite for being issued a license to operate.

The DoF also wants PAGCOR, along with the Department of Justice, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to compile a database of foreign workers employed by POGOs.

In the same statement, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD Guballa reported that the initial database of 138,000 persons issued work permits, collated from various offices, was trimmed down to 122,397 foreign workers. The database is still subject to further validation, he added.

Mr. Guballa also said that the BIR has assessed 19 out of 204 PAGCOR-registered POGOs and assessed them final withholding tax amounting to a combined P1.4 billion in 2018. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio