POGO workers' influx to PH 'directly' linked to rise in criminality - police

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2020 03:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2020 06:29 PM

POGO workers' influx to PH 'directly' linked to rise in criminality - police 1
More than 50 Chinese women were rescued from a prostitution den in Parañaque in September 2019. File

MANILA (UPDATE) - The rise in kidnapping and prostitution cases in the country is "directly" linked to the influx of Chinese workers to the Philippines, a high-ranking police official said Thursday, as a Senate panel looked into the connection between Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and a spike in criminality in the country.

Some 199 trafficked women were rescued from Chinese-run prostitution dens last year, said Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief of Operations. 

Of the rescued women, 173 were Chinese, including one minor, Eleazar said, while 59 of the 60 suspects arrested for their involvement in sex trafficking were Chinese.

"We did not have these kinds of operations 3 years before," Eleazar told members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

"The increase in crime is directly dependent [on] the number of Chinese nationals who arrived here," he told reporters in a separate interview.

Police also recorded 9 POGO-related kidnappings involving 16 Chinese victims and 38 Chinese suspects, he said.

If incidents involving physical casinos are considered, the number of kidnapping incidents will climb to 73 cases involving 80 victims abducted between 2017 and 2020, he said.

 'CAUSE OF CONCERN'

Eleazar affirmed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon's claim that the kidnapping syndicates have been "preying on Chinese businessmen engaged in online gambling."

"All of the victims are Chinese nationals. Perpetrators are mostly Chinese but in cahoots with some of the Filipinos here," Eleazar told reporters.

"It is a cause of concern for all of us... Sa pagdami nila (Chinese) dito, pati na rin 'yung ibang businessman nagke-cater na din sa ibang pangangailangan ng ibang Chinese nationals, not just the restaurant and other recreational concern, but pati na rin 'yung prostitution kasi nagdadala na din sila ng entertainers from abroad," he said.

(With the increase of the Chinese here, even other businessmen are catering to the needs of Chinese nationals, not just the restaurant and other recreational concern, but even prostitution, because they also bring entertainers here from abroad.)

Drilon castigated the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for pushing to maintain POGOs in the country despite the social costs.

"Should POGOs remain in our midst given all these information we have? Why are we so in love with POGOs?" Drilon said.

"I am so disappointed that for P8 billion in fees, we're saying we should maintain them... Disgusting is a very mild term of describing your view of POGO operations," he told PAGCOR representatives in the hearing.

ISOLATED CASES?

The Chinese embassy in Manila earlier labelled Chinese-perpetrated crimes in the Philippines as "isolated incidents."

"Individual illegal and criminal cases involving Chinese citizens are only isolated incidents and cannot represent the whole picture of China-Philippines relations," the embassy said in a statement.

"The Chinese Embassy firmly opposes any irresponsible remarks based on fake news and condemns any groundless allegations against China out of ulterior political motives," it said.
"Individual illegal and criminal cases involving Chinese citizens are only isolated incidents and cannot represent the whole picture of China-Philippines relations," the embassy said in a statement.

"The Chinese Embassy firmly opposes any irresponsible remarks based on fake news and condemns any groundless allegations against China out of ulterior political motives," it said.

Senators earlier said they would soon craft a measure that would declare offshore gambling as illegal in the Philippines.