Visa cancellation of over 48,000 POGO workers underway

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MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration has begun processing visa cancellations for more than 48,782 foreign employees of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) whose operating licenses have been revoked by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

“Upon receiving information from Pagcor, we immediately began cross-checking their employees to determine those who are still in the country,” Immigration Chief Norman Tansingco said in a statement on Sunday.

“Although this is a laborious task as we have to check every record, we are confident that it could be completed within a month.”

With their visas cancelled, the foreign workers will be ordered to leave the country in 59 days. Those who stay beyond 59 days will be expelled.

“It’s the usual procedure for canceled visas, and it’s actually cheaper and faster,” Tansingco said.

The cost of departure will be borne by the workers themselves.

Meanwhile, the Board of Commissioners of the office has issued a summary deportation order against 372 foreigners, of whom 331 are Chinese and the remaining 41 are of other nationalities.

The 372 foreigners were arrested in separate National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police (PNP) operations in Pasig and Angeles last September.

The Philippines became a hotbed for Chinese gangsters when Vietnam and Cambodia banned Chinese-backed online gambling and foreign casinos similar to POGOs, according to Brig. General Ronald Lee, director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

So far, the PNP has only received 27 reports of kidnapping cases, 20 of which are linked to POGOs, according to PNP spokesman Colonel Jean Fajardo.

Lawmakers have called on the government to ban POGOs because they have been linked to a recent spate of kidnappings and other crimes.

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