MANILA -- Malacañang on Monday backed the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) decision to require foreign and Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo) to register with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) before their licenses to operate can be renewed.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described this development as a “good measure” since it also aims to monitor the number of Chinese nationals working in the online gaming industry.

“That’s a good measure, to determine exactly how many Chinese nationals were here in violation of our laws,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Asked if the executive was alarmed by the rise in the number of Chinese workers in the country, Panelo explained that it was simply to make it easier to collect corporate tax more efficiently.

Siguro hindi naman alarm, siguro gusto talaga ma-determine ng BIR yung number of nationals kasi konektado yun sa declaration ng income. Para makakolekta tayo ng tamang corporate tax (Perhaps we’re not alarmed, perhaps the BIR just wants to determine the number of nationals because it’s connected to the declaration of income. So that we can collect correct corporate tax),” he added.

Under BIR’s Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 78-2018 last year, “foreign-based and Philippine-based operators, including those that have already been issued an offshore gaming license by PAGCOR, are required to register with the BIR on or before the commencement of business; or before payment of any tax due; or before or upon filing of any applicable tax return, statement or declaration”.

The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development is set to hold a hearing on the influx of illegal foreign workers in the Philippines on Feb. 21.

This after Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the committee, expressed concern over the growing number of Chinese nationals working in the country.

Citing National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) data, Villanueva said 95 percent of foreign nationals arrested or charged in court for various offenses last year were Chinese nationals.

Of the cases involving Chinese nationals, 114 individuals have been arrested for illegal online gambling.

Earlier, former President Benigno Aquino III also expressed concern over the increased presence of Chinese skilled workers in the country taking over jobs supposedly for Filipinos.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), however, assured that it will prioritize the employment of Filipino skilled workers before hiring foreigners. (PNA)