BI, DOLE urged to check papers of 8,100 workers of padlocked POGO firm

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019   •   408

Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva has urged the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to check if the 8,100 workers of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) firm that was earlier padlocked by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have the necessary documents.

Most of the POGO operator’s workers are reportedly Chinese.

“We appeal to our immigration and labor authorities to check whether the 8,100 foreign workers hired by this firm, called Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp., have the necessary documents that prove their legitimate stay and employment here in the Philippines,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“Should our authorities determine that the workers employed there are illegal workers, they must be subjected to deportation immediately,” he added.

On Wednesday, the BIR shuttered the offices of Great Empire Gaming and Amusement Corp. (GEGAC) located at the Subic Freeport, Eastwood in Libis, Quezon City and ASEANA City in Parañaque.

This is in line with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to shut down POGO firms and their service providers that fail or refuse to settle the tax liabilities of their foreign workers.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor and employment, commended the BIR and the Quezon City Police for its effort to comply with the directive to close down tax-evading POGOs.

However, he proposed that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) be also involved in the next operations.

“The joint operation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Quezon City Police is the kind of synergy that we need from government agencies in enforcing our laws. Their effort is commendable,” he said.

“But we hope to see more agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment, the Bureau of Immigration, and even the National Bureau of Investigation to be involved in forthcoming operations,” he added.

The senator also expressed hope that the shutdown of a POGO firm with tax liabilities will serve as a “warning for similar firms who will continue to ignore our tax laws,” as well as those who violate the country’s labor and immigration laws.

He also urged concerned government agencies to strengthen efforts to end illegal online gambling, illegal foreign workers, and the entry of undesirable aliens in the country.

“We should not be deceived by the expectation of tax from them when what we’ve seen is a sector that tries to avoid and evade our tax system,” he said.

The Department of Finance earlier said the payment of tax liabilities should account for each foreign worker in POGOs.

It also directed the BIR to reject any “lump sum” offer or any other arrangement in paying their tax arrears.

IATF approves DOLE’s proposed additional budget for workers’ cash assistance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 8, 2020

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has approved the proposed additional budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the formal and informal labor sectors affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to IATF-EID Spokesperson Sec. Karlo Nograles they have approved the release of P5 billion budget for DOLE’s cash assistance program.

The aid is seen to help displaced domestic and overseas Filipino workers.

“Sinusuportahan ng IATF ang request ng DOLE para sa release ng P5 billion piso para sa programa ng DOLE tulad ng COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) for affected overseas Filipino workers and (OFWs) and local workers; Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Displaced or Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Sanitation Project; and the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) for OFWs program, (The IATF is supporting the request of DOLE to release P5 billion for their program like COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) for affected overseas Filipino workers and (OFWs) and local workers; Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Displaced or Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Sanitation Project; and the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) for OFWs program)” Nograles said.

Nograles also clarified that DOLE’s assistance is different from the emergency subsidy program of the Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

According to DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the department will provide P10,000 assistance to affected OFWs, documented or undocumented under the DOLE AKAP program.

“We hope to aid  all 715,000 workers whose employers numbering close to 30,000 had applied for financial  assistance as of today under CAMP. We are ready to process more requests if more establishments will submit their reports,” Bello said. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr.)

BI field offices to close for disinfection, will resume on April 13

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that the normal operations in its provincial field offices that are closed for disinfection will resume on April 13.

In a statement on Monday, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente announced that some of its provincial operations will be temporarily suspended this week to allow the conduct of “much-needed disinfecting” following the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He said this is to protect the bureau personnel and the transacting public from contracting the disease.

“This move was done after a careful study, and it will definitely not affect our operations,” Morente said.

“Most offices have zero to two transactions per day due to the quarantine, add that to the fact that most international airports have also temporarily ceased operations,” he added.

Morente, however, clarified that immigration offices near operating international airports, as well as their main office in Intramuros will remain open to cater to urgent matters.

“Many of the foreign nationals who are leaving depart via sweeper flights organized by their embassies. Our key offices shall remain open to coordinate this, including our airport and seaport operations,” he said.

He advised foreign nationals to contact the BI’s National Operations Center through phone numbers +63285243769 and +63284652400 or via email at xinfo@immigration.gov.ph, immigPH@gmail.com or binoc_immigration@hotmail.com.

The bureau may also be reached through its social media accounts Facebook.com/officialbureauofimmigration and Facebook.com/immigration.helpline.ph.

DOLE allows employers to defer April holiday pay

Marje Pelayo   •   April 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has allowed employers to defer payment of April holiday pay in view of the current national health emergency due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to Labor Advisory 13-A Series of 2020, employers may opt to defer employees’ pay for April 9, 10, 11 holidays “until such time that the present emergency situation has been abated” and the establishments’ operations have been returned to normal.

Meanwhile, establishments that have totally ceased operation during the enhanced community quarantine period “are exempted from the payment of the holiday pay.”

The advisory, signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, was issued on Wednesday (April 1).

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