THREE service providers of Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) employed nearly 10,000 foreign workers, but no job opportunity was given to a single Filipino, data from the state gaming agency showed.

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva presented the data from the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which identified the three as Big Emperor Technology Corp., Jindingyuan Business Support, Inc., and Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. Respectively, they hired 3,483, 3,226 and 3,086 foreign nationals.

“We have been saying that we are not against foreign workers in the country. Kapag may foreign workers dito sa ating bansa, ibig sabihin may Filipino na hindi capable to do that job (When foreign workers are employed in the country, it means Filipinos are not capable of doing the job),” he said in a briefing.

Mr. Villanueva said the nature of the job has to be highly technical before alien workers are preferred over Filipinos. But he said if the issue is language, local language skills institute, including the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, could provide training for locals to learn to speak Chinese.

On top of this and other crimes related to POGOs, such as kidnapping, prostitution, and failure to pay tax dues, Senator Richard J. Gordon found a multi-million money laundering activity linked to POGOs.

“I can connect POGO to the money, to the real estate aspect, to the investment aspect of cleaning the money. But it can stand independently,” Mr. Gordon said in a separate briefing.

He also said that the Philippine government’s “soft” stance on China paved the way for the growth of the POGO industry and ultimately to the said irregularities.

“This would never happen if the administration were not too soft on China. ‘Yun ang isang rason bakit sila nandito (That’s one reason why they are here),” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan