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Philippines

Robredo: If we’re friends with China, why do we tolerate ‘illegal’ Pogo?

Robredo: If we’re friends with China, why do we tolerate ‘illegal’ Pogo?

Vice President Leni Robredo. (Screengrab from a video posted on her Facebook timeline)

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo wondered why the Philippines is tolerating Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (Pogos) while it is considered illegal in China.

Robredo said this appears to be in contrast with the close ties of Manila with Beijing, as Palace officials claim.

“Supposedly, very close iyong friendship saka relationship natin with China. So bakit… bakit hina-harbor natin iyong iligal sa kanila?” Robredo said on the sidelines of an event in Quezon City on Friday.

“‘Di ba dapat kung very… very close iyong friendship natin, bago natin hayaan na dagsain tayo dito, pinag-usapan na ng representatives ng dalawang bansa? Bakit kung kailan sobrang dami na nila saka pag-uusapan pa lang?” she added.

Recently, there were talks of creating Pogo hubs, which will be sanctioned by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).  However, the Chinese embassy has expressed concerns about the transfer, as it may infringe on the rights of their citizens.

Pagcor, however, insisted that it would actually protect the rights of the Chinese nationals working in Pogos.

READ: Cavite, Clark to host mega ‘Pogo’ hubs 

READ: China frets over planned transfer of POGO workers to ‘self-contained’ hubs 

READ: Pogo hubs to shield legal Chinese workers from harassment, says Pagcor 

The Pogo hubs, which was declared illegal by the Chinese government, are being blamed for the influx of Chinese workers in the country.

Just this Thursday, the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) said the increase in gambling-related kidnapping incidents, which currently stands at 52 since 2017, can be attributed to the number of casino and gaming sites in hotels, as well as the uprise in Pogo sites.

READ: China says online casinos illegal but PH to continue collecting taxes from them 

READ: PNP probing casino junket operators for rise in kidnappings of Chinese gamblers 

Issues about supposedly looming Chinese intrusion over the country’s territory and economic scene have been discussed ever since President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in 2016.  Duterte vowed to restore relations between the Philippines and the Asian superpower, after ties were strained during the previous administration.

Robredo added that a lot of questions have yet to be answered regarding the Pogos, its largely-Chinese workers and operators, and their length of stay in the Philippines.

“Marami ring kuwestiyon kung ano iyong papel noong mga pumapasok na mga Chinese. Nandito ba sila? Mayroon bang work permits? Ano ba iyong… ano iyong status? Gaano sila katagal dito titira?” Robredo asked.

“Parang ang tagal tagal nang tinatanong iyon, walang kasagutan. Wala nga tayong kasagutan kung ilan na lahat sila dito,” she stressed.

The Vice President also insisted that the government should also monitor whether job opportunities are being given to Chinese citizens, while the Philippines suffers from unemployment.

“Maraming mga information na iyong mga pumapasok hindi na lang nagtatrabaho sa Pogo pero nagtatrabaho na rin sa construction, nagtatrabaho kung saan-saan,” she said.

“So ang tanong—pangatlo—baka naagawan ng trabaho iyong dapat sana sa Pilipino. Maraming katanungan na until now, hindi nasasagot,” she noted. /jpv

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