A SENATOR urged the government on Tuesday to bar offshore gaming operators in the Philippines from reopening once a Luzon-wide lockdown is relaxed.

Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel filed Senate Resolution 368 seeking the ban after the operators — mostly Chinese-owned gambling companies who employ their own citizens — allegedly failed to pay taxes.

The lawmaker said President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who has sought closer trade and investment ties with China, should think of ways to address joblessness instead of allowing the gaming operators to reopen.

Ms. Baraquel earlier said about 70,000 Chinese nationals are illegally employed by these gaming companies.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. on March 18 suspended their operations Mr. Duterte locked the Luzon, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain a novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The resumption of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) would mean allowing the mobility of at least 120,000 POGO workers,” Ms. Baraquel said. “This would defeat all the efforts that Filipinos are undertaking to contain COVID-19,” she added.

She also proposed that P50 billion worth of the industry’s unpaid taxes be remitted and used in the battle against the outbreak.

“We can provide a cash assistance of P5,000 each for 10 million Filipinos if POGOs pay what they owe us,” she said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan