The issue of illegal Chinese immigrants working in droves across the Philippines online casino sector is once again attracting the attention of authorities.
According to local media the Philippines tax agency is now setting its sights on the 57 POGO licence holders – many of whom target mainland China and rely on an influx of Chinese speaking staff to work in their studios and call centres.
The Department of Finance is now saying that all POGOs must register with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to declare their practices before the local regulator PAGCOR will renew their licences.
“We want to trace these Chinese nationals employed by these gaming operators,” the Bureau of Internal Revenue Deputy Commissioner, Arnel Guballa, was cited as saying during a Department of Finance Executive Committee meeting in June. “They allowed us to join the task force because we are asking for data from Immigration and the Department of Labour and Employment on the list of these foreign nationals.”
Immigration claimed that 115,000 work permits were issued to foreign nationals from 2015 to 2017 – 51,000 of these were issued to Chinese nationals. However a labour ministry official estimated that as many as three million Chinese have emigrated to the Philippines since 2016 and many of them have applied for permits.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the average wage in a Chinese city is just Y3,813 per month. Whereas the starting wage for Chinese workers in Philippines online gambling sector typically run at Y14,000 – moving up to Y17,000 in the second and third years.