PORT FOLIO Column: Ramon Cuyco Column

MIGRAnomy or China’s hegemony?

Nov 29, 2022, 12:24 AM
Ramon Cuyco

Ramon Cuyco


AT THE onset of this administration, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, was reported to have said he would deport 40,000 overstaying aliens, which sent shockwaves to the gaming industry, more than it did to the country’s security sector. The state regulators and the enterprise operators convened to craft strategies for the embattled gaming sector.

Majority of these targets to be hit by the deportation thunderbolt were working in licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) firms.

Compounded by news accounts where foreigners, not necessarily gaming attendants, who figured prominently in crimes and other shenanigans whose deportation seemed a foregone conclusion.

Senate investigations reeled off, the social media on both side of the continuum came out strongly, and the government announced ex cathedra its plan —so we deported scores of Chinese nationals.

But after the opening salvo of deportation, nothing was heard of 40,000 ‘deportables’ from Remulla. Only the Commissioner of Immigration is consistently, albeit quietly, implementing his administrative supervisor’s plan.

Is POGO detrimental to our interest, despite the revenue it generates, the taxes it pays, the employment it offers, and the real estate that boomed because of it? Some crimes were committed by foreigners; but their connection with POGOs is a bit hazy and speculative. Anecdotal rather than empirical.

Lately, BI insiders reported that Filipino tourists are frequenting Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and other Asian neighbors not to tour nor business, nor to visit relatives and friends-- they’re there for offshore gaming operations.

If the number of Filipinos offloaded at the major gateways were an indicator, the offshore gaming operations that we demolished here are booming in newfound havens outside the Philippines. They pay taxes, offer jobs, and generate demands for real estate. What we lost for our dislike for POGO, is what other countries are gaining.

Why not just tweak the POGO into something more beneficial. Our DoJ is viewed as too subservient to the PROC. Chinese hate POGO and they want their nationals back home.

We behave like a socialist country in our ayuda, pantawid and POGO will help generate revenues for such initiatives. Filling our coffers is not China’s job but our leaders. Would they rather get China financial traps that it did with Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka? We should raise revenue our way.

I suppose it’d better for us to declare amnesty for overstaying aliens and generate billions of pesos from it. BI can handle such intervention as it had several versions of alien integration programs in the past, including the one authored by the feisty late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. And they did it well.

Or we can tweak POGO into GOPO— Globally Outsourced Productivity Options by legislation to generate revenue but an EO can quickly set off the process. After all, the President “shall exercise with respect to aliens in the Philippines such powers as are recognized by the generally accepted principles of international law” says EO 292.

The DoJ secretary, being the alter ego of the President, can make the foreign migrants stay and pay for their extended stay—regardless of what PROC says.

We are sovereign and China is aware of this.

Unfortunately, we seemed to be prevailed upon by China, which calls POGOs illegal; but we don’t. Yet we seem not to want to displease China.


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