FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has asked the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to team up with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) as well as law enforcement agencies in weeding out illegal foreign workers in the country.
This was after the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) reported that it had initially uncovered some 12,000 foreign nationals without work permits employed in various establishments, most of them Philippine online gaming operators (Pogo).
In a recent meeting with members of the interagency task force created to monitor and list down the number of foreign nationals working for Pogos, Dominguez learned from Dole that out of 148 establishments employing around 37,000 workers that were inspected so far, 12,000 foreign nationals in 33 Pogos lacked the necessary permits from the BI and the labor department.
Dole’s Bureau of Local Employment Director Dominique Tutay also reported during the same meeting that Dole found 20 Pogos were not in Pagcor’s list of registered service providers.
She said her report only covered the first two batches of establishments inspected. The next batch will cover the special economic zones (SEZs) and dining places employing foreign nationals.
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa, for his part, reported that after validating and checking for duplications, the initial data showing 138,000 issued working permits to foreign nationals collated from various offices was trimmed to 122,397 foreign workers and will be subject to further validation.
Dominguez, who wants personal income taxes (PIT) collected from foreign nationals employed by Pogos, said the BI, Pagcor, Dole and law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should get their act together to weed out illegal aliens working in the country.
“Why don’t we step on the gas here? He (Guballa) said 122,000 (foreign workers). She (Tutay) already identified another 10 percent that are not registered, 12,000,” Dominguez said. “As I’ve told you last time, BIR has a job to do, to collect taxes. For them to be effective, everybody else has to contribute to their effectivity.”
Dominguez said he will inform President Rodrigo Duterte about the outcome of the meeting and report that “we are making progress, but not fast enough.”
The Finance chief told the BI Deputy Commissioner Tobias Javier to prioritize the rounding up of the 12,000 illegal aliens after finding out that the bureau was only able to arrest 393 illegal foreign workers last year.
“For the next meeting, we would like to see movement on the assessment. We would like to see inspections and closure of establishments with illegal foreign workers. So we’d like to see progress. And you know, if there are 12,000 that you found, there must be a lot more, a lot more who are floating around,” Dominguez said.
“This is a crime. It’s a violation of the law,” he added.
Guballa said that from the cleaned-up list, the BIR has so far assessed 19 out of the 204 Pogo service providers registered with Pagcor. The BIR’s computations show a final withholding tax assessment of P1.4 billion combined for these 19 taxpayers for 2018 alone.
The BIR official said the 19 assessed so far would be given the standard 10 days to reply to the assessments.
Guballa said that for the rest of the service providers, “we are now collating all documents and cleansing these as they come to our office.”
Assessments would then be issued and furnished to each service provider complete with their list of employees, Guballa said. (PR)