BI to cancel visas of over 48,000 foreigners working in POGOs with revoked permits

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to cancel the visas of 48,782 foreign nationals working in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) with cancelled or revoked licenses.

“Upon receipt of the information from Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation), we immediately started cross-checking their employees to determine which ones are still in the country,” BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said in a statement on Sunday.

Tansingco said they are confident that this could be completed in a month, noting that the method is more economical and faster since the cost of departure will be shouldered by the foreigners themselves.

With the cancellation of their visa, they will be ordered to leave the country within 59 days instead of being deported immediately. After such time, the agency will initiate deportation proceedings, it added.

The BI emphasized that foreign nationals with valid visas and are complying with Philippine laws should not be worried.

So far, the bureau said 372 foreign nationals are set for deportation. They include 331 Chinese and 41 other nationals rounded up in separate operations by police authorities in Pasig and Angeles, Pampanga last month.

Deportation was supposed to start on Oct. 1 or 2, but needed documents have yet to be completed.

“We are dependent on the Chinese Embassy as to many matters, such as the issuance of travel papers. We have been coordinating with them for two weeks now,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told reporters.

The BI’s Board of Commissioners has already issued a Summary of Deportation Order for the foreigners, the bureau said.

“As soon as we have travel documents issued by the Chinese embassy. Constant follow-up is being done. Thereafter, plane tickets for the first available flight will be purchased. The NBI clearance is expected for release tomorrow,” Tansingco said.

The number of deportees per batch will depend on available airlines seats, he noted.

The Chinese Embassy also assured “close communication with the Philippine law enforcement agencies on cracking down on POGO related crimes.”

“Deportation is in progress and must be conducted in accordance with both the Chinese and Philippine laws,” it added.

The deportation comes as authorities intensify efforts to crack down on POGOs whose licenses have been revoked by Pagcor.