MANILA--The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday clarified that photos of Chinese help desks circulating on social media were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These are old photos of various tourist police help desks taken in previous years during the surge in arrivals of Chinese tourists and until early this year when the Chinese embassy sought the help of the PNP to address the rising number of Chinese nationals getting involved or victimized in crimes, such as kidnapping related to POGOs and casino loan shark operations," PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a statement.
The police help desks have been repurposed since the country was placed under public health emergency due to the coronavirus crisis, Banac added.
The PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, however, continues to maintain a help desk for cases involving Chinese tourists, expats and gaming workers, he said.
The Philippines has seen a spike in the arrival of Chinese tourists and workers since President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power in mid-2016 and immediately set about warming relations with Beijing.
The influx has had a mixed impact in the Philippines, with authorities suspecting many of the arrivals are working illegally in the online gambling industry.
Data from the police showed that kidnapping cases involving Chinese doubled to 38 in 2019, compared to the previous year. -- With a report from Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News