Press Release
July 19, 2019

De Lima supports DOJ's probe on escort service for illegal POGO workers

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed support behind the move by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the reported "escort service for a fee" afforded to illegal Chinese workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"Suportado natin ang DOJ sa pagkilos na ito. Hindi natin dapat palampasin ang ganitong ulat. Inagaw na nga nila ang teritoryo natin, hindi natin dapat hayaang bastusin pa nila ang mga batas ng Pilipinas," said De Lima.

The DOJ ordered a probe after reports surfaced that some erring Bureau of Immigration (BI) employees based in NAIA are in cahoots with some illegal Chinese working with the Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

De Lima also mulls the filing of a resolution calling on the Senate to conduct a thorough probe on reports that some POGOs tap some erring BI employees to "escort" Chinese workers who have tourist visas but would actually work for online gaming firms.

"Ibig sabihin lang nito, gusto talaga nilang palusutan ang mga panuntunang itinakda ng ating pamahalaan para mabantayan at masingil ng tamang buwis ang mga nagtatrabaho sa industriya ng POGO," added De Lima, referring to the recent agreement between the Department of Finance (DOF) and POGO in relation to the tax rates of the workers.

De Lima, who chaired the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development in the 17th Congress, expressed apprehension about a creeping Chinese colonization following the planned establishment of a 32-hectare complex dubbed as "Pogo Island" in Kawit, Cavite.

The 32-hectare complex was established by a wealthy Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur, who purchased the former Island Cove resort from the influential Remulla clan. The complex can house an initial 20,000 workers when it opens next month, but it could accommodate around 50,000 workers when completed.

Even in detention for trumped-up charges filed by the Duterte administration in a bid to silence her, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 1030 calling for a probe into the reported failure of POGO firms to comply with government regulations on foreign workers.

In her resolution she filed in the previous 17th Congress, the lady Senator from Bicol also wanted to find out if these POGOs are paying appropriate personal income taxes due to the Philippine government.

De Lima also filed Senate Resolution No. 1038 seeking to investigate the alleged human trafficking operations at the NAIA, which victimize many Filipino workers, especially women and minors.

As then justice secretary, De Lima also chaired the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking where under her watch, the country earned a Tier 1 Status in the United States Trafficking in Persons Report in 2016 for having "fully met the minimum standards in eliminating human trafficking in the country."

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