‘Work permits for foreign POGO workers needed’

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    AN administration lawmaker yesterday said the arrest last weekend of eight Chinese for allegedly kidnapping Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) workers should be a wake-up call for the government to expedite the issuance of working permits for foreign nationals in the POGO industry to allow authorities to monitor and easily identify them.

    “Issuing working permits would easily help us identify the culprits among these Chinese workers,” said Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) party-list Rep. Eric Yap, chair of the House committee on games and amusement.

    He said that aside from stricter enforcement of laws, “there is also a need to revisit existing measures involving foreign nationals working in the country.”

    “Maybe we should revisit our process. There’s obviously a loophole and it is being exploited. What are we doing about it? When you go overseas, Filipino workers always carry with them their work documents and passports for fear of being accosted by authorities but here in our country, these foreigners are involved in kidnapping and the immigration bureau does not even have a clue. They will be caught and then released,” Yap said in a statement.

    Rep. Ronnie Ong of Ang Probinsyano party-list earlier said thousands of Chinese POGO workers have been abandoning their jobs to go “TNT” (Tago ng Tago) in the country.

    “I suggest that through Pagcor, these POGO employees should be fully documented and identified not only for the good of the country but also for their own protection,” he said.

    Yap was referring to the arrest by elements of the PNP’s Anti-kidnapping operatives of eight Chinese and a Filipino in separate operations in Laguna and Parañaque City.

    The suspects were identified as Chen Kai En, Wang Jian Xiong, Mei Lin and Ariel Carmona, a Filipino, who were all arrested in San Pedro City on Saturday. Their cohorts, Jack Chan and Ruohuang Chen, were caught in Cabuyao City the following day.

    They were arrested for detaining two Chinese, Li Fei Yu and Long Yong Lin, both POGO workers.

    Just recently, there was also another case of kidnapping involving two POGO workers who are believed to be lovers. The victims were kidnapped and were set free upon payment of ransom by their families.

    “I’m really fed up with this – not only to those who commit these crimes but also the police because it’s an insult to all of us. These cases of kidnapping and other crimes remain unabated because we’re not doing anything,” he said.

    Yap said the Chinese criminals do not seem to fear the PNP, believing that the cases against them will not prosper.

    “What is the PNP doing about this? Is it even reported to the (Bureau of) Immigration. Do they even check if those involved have proper documents? What visa do they have? They should be kicked out of the country if they’re involved in crimes,” he said.