THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said on Thursday that it will ensure Filipinos working in offshore gaming companies get the appropriate separation benefits in case the industry is ordered to shut down.
The department will ensure that such workers will get “separation pay and other benefits that are in line with the framework set by the labor code,” Labor Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez said at a televised briefing.
The Labor Code of the Philippines requires that establishments that shut down provide separation pay equivalent to a month’s salary.
Mr. Benavidez noted that DoLE will also ensure that such workers receive unemployment insurance, equivalent to half their monthly pay.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority will also provide upskilling and livelihood programs for workers affected by the potential ban on offshore gaming firms, Mr. Benavidez added.
He said that the department will help workers find jobs in similar industries through public employment offices.
DoLE estimates that about 25,000 employees may be affected by a potential ban on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).
National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said on Thursday that the government should consider the long-term issues offshore gaming companies may pose to the economy.
“It is creating a bad impression on the economy too where other countries are banning offshore gambling firms because they are associated with things like crime,” he said in chance remarks to reporters.
Legislators on Tuesday reiterated calls for the government to ban offshore gaming in the Philippines, warning that other crimes could stem from their presence here.
Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian accused the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) of failing to regulate POGOs.
PAGCOR has said those who want to gamble should do so legally on licensed electronic gaming platforms, citing the threat of cybercrime.
The Pasig City government recently banned all offshore gaming operators, giving them until the end of the year to close shop.
A total of 156 foreigners linked to illegal offshore gaming companies have been deported as of Dec. 31, the Bureau of Immigration said on Jan. 4.
“The government, especially the Labor department, has a plan for these workers that may be affected by a possible halt in these POGOs’ operations,” Mr. Benavidez said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez