THE Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said Wednesday that it supports a crackdown on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) due to non-compliance with various tax, business-registration, and immigration laws.

“Number one… kung illegal ’yang mga ’yan, (If POGO workers are here illegally) there should be a massive crackdown. Send them home,” Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, who chairs the panel, said in a briefing.

He said the indications are that many of them have not complied with immigration rules, based on reports that a majority of industry workers entered the country using the visa-on-arrival scheme.

Malaki ang pagkakataong illegal ‘yang mga ‘yan kasi may report tayong nare-receive na visa upon arrival ang mga nakuha ng mga ‘yan (There is a good chance many of them are illegal because of reports that they availed of the visa-on-arrival scheme).”

He urged the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine National Police to conduct the crackdown.

The committee is also reviewing measures to ensure the BI becomes stricter in granting visas on arrival.

He said a crackdown brings the Philippines in line with Chinese views on the industry. In August the Chinese Embassy in Manila said all forms of gambling by Chinese citizens including online gambling and gambling overseas are illegal.

“If we have a massive crackdown, we will have a convergence of interests between the Philippines and China.”

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it will step up monitoring of POGOs and other buildings occupied by Chinese firms, amid complaints about increased prostitution and kidnapping.

“So, all these POGO centers are under watch of the Philippine National Police and we will prevent any commission of crime or any violation of law and order,” Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año said in a briefing.

The DILG is also working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology to stop online prostitution. — Charmaine A. Tadalan