By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Party-list Cong. Ronnie Ong (Ang Probinsyano) favors the proposed mandatory screening of offshore gaming workers under the Philippine Gaming Operators (POGO) amid health scare due to the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Ong, vice-chair of the House committee on games and amusement, made the remarks considering that most of POGO workers in the country came from China.
“Agree but not easy to do considering the numbers,” said Ong in reference to the thousands Chinese and other East Asians working across the 62 registered POGO hubs in the country.
Ong acknowledged that the Bureau of Immigration can’t handle the matter alone to limited manpower but the mandatory testing of POGO workers can be done by cluster.
Ong earlier reiterated his call for the mandatory issuance of Gaming Employment License (GEL) identification cards to all foreign nationals working in various offshore gaming hubs in the country.
He said PAGCOR should issue GEL IDs to foreigners working for offshore gaming operators under the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) so that they can be properly documented.
Meanwhile, Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said POGO operators should be handling cost of such testing considering the fact that the offshore gaming business is a multi-billion industry.
“Not at the expense of our government. Tutal malakas naman sila kumita, sila dapat ang mag handle ng gastos para sa test,” said Defensor.
Both Ong and Defensor cautioned the Department of Health (DOH) against issuing public pronouncements related to unverified cases of the dreaded 2019-nCoV which has been blamed for several deaths in some parts of the world, particularly in China.