Senator Win Gatchalian has urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to keep a tight rein on the issuance of tax identification number (TIN) IDs following a discovery that such IDs are being obtained by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) involved in various criminal activities to legitimize the employment status of their workers.
According to Gatchalian, the BIR issues TIN IDs without photos, allowing such IDs to lend some form of validity to the identity of individuals involved in criminal activities. “Since criminal syndicates are able to obtain government IDs such as TIN IDs, foreign nationals supposedly working for POGOs but are actually involved in organized crimes, are able to stay in the country and work for various POGOs fronting for criminal syndicates,” the lawmaker emphasized.
“It’s time to change those antiquated IDs,” Gatchalian told a hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Women, after Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz claimed the agency obtained verification that the TIN IDs concerned were part of the BIR database.
The revelation underscores the critical need for the BIR to revisit its ID issuance processes, incorporating updated security measures and comprehensive identification features, said Gatchalian.
Aside from TIN IDs, police authorities also recovered Philhealth IDs, Certificates of Alien Registration, Alien Employment Permits, and police clearances at Smart Web Technology, an establishment provisionally licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).
Smart Web’s POGO hub in Pasay City was found to have a prostitution den and a torture chamber. Aside from prostitution, Smart Web is also believed to be involved in other crimes such as labor trafficking and various scams.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Gatchalian has been advocating for the expulsion of the POGO industry from the country amid the continuing proliferation of criminal activities attributed to the industry.
“The Philippines is now the favorite playground of organized criminal syndicates and the POGOs have become the avenue for these syndicates to continue operating here,” Gatchalian said.