NBI resumes operations vs POGO-related crimes
MANILA — The Department of Justice is eyeing deporting close to 300 Chinese by the end of the month, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said Thursday, following a meeting with representatives from the Chinese embassy in Manila at the DOJ.
“Right now we have less than 300 in custody but we expect more to be there for deportation later on kapag nag-all-out tayo… kasi we are collating a lot of information now we are ding surveillance,” he said.
“Mga 280 plus yan. I think that we are talking about illegal POGOs there siyempre yun muna ang ating titingnan kung illegal, and of course we are still collating other complaints about the diff POGOs that are here kasi kinakailangan talaga natin malaman ang mga nangyayari kasi di tayo pede padalos-dalos. We have to have complete information every time we move against people, alam niyo naman iyan,” he explained.
The number includes both overstaying Chinese and those involved with illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
At a recent Senate hearing, Remulla estimated around 40,000 POGO employees might be staying in the country illegally but he said Thursday they need to validate information they receive.
In his brief meeting with Zhou Zhiyong, Chargé D’affaires Ad Interim from the Chinese Embassy in Manila, Remulla said they talked about the procedure for deporting Chinese citizens as well as the timeline.
“Siyempre kailangan ma-verify ang lahat ng identities, at kung okay na sa kanila ang identities tatanggapin na nila yung mga kailangan pauwiin dahil overstaying,” he said.
Those involved in POGO-related crimes, however, will have to be investigated first, Remulla said.
“We have to investigate muna , involvement in crime is a police matter. The Department of Justice is not into that. Ang ano natin is really how we apply the law in a situation like this, that is how to prevent any crisis from happening kasi alam nyo naman pagka-ganito, mangyayari dapat we obey the law and follow the law in terms of respecting the rights of the people,” he said.
“Summary deportation will be resorted to pag nandyan na, pag tamang panahon. Kasi ano yan, step-by-step lahat. It cannot happen overnight. We have to validate information, we have to ask them to validate it themselves. Kapag sinabi nila na ok, valid information, then we agree on the time or the manner, then we have to give the tests,” he added, noting that COVID restrictions are still in place in China.
Some airlines, he said, require 3 RT-PCR tests while local airlines require 2.
The rise in POGO-related crimes such as kidnapping have led some legislators to call for the scrapping of POGOs.
With the recent scrutiny over POGO operations, Remulla said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now back operating against illegal POGOs.
He earlier ordered NBI to stop its crackdown on POGOs after receiving reports of alleged arrest and extortion activities.
“We’re already moving now. Kaya natin itinigil ang operation ng NBI noon kasi nga, nobody was filing cases. Magre-rescue pero pagdating, hinahanap natin ang report, hinahanap natin ang kaso, walang kaso. So anong ginagawa nila? Parang walang ginagawa di ba? Pero ginagawa nila yung government time and government resources. So we had to stop it,” he explained.
“Now that this has come to light, the NBI is there already. We already have mobilized teams from the NBI to start moving on this one,” he added.
In a statement Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said “the Chinese government firmly opposes and takes tough measures to combat gambling.”
“According to the Chinese laws and regulations, gambling in whatever form by Chinese citizens, be it online gambling or gambling overseas is illegal,” it said.
The embassy said it appreciates the efforts of Philippine law enforcement agencies in rescuing Chinese citizens who have been the target of recent crimes.
“The Chinese Embassy has kept close communication and coordination with the Philippine side. Crimes induced by and associated with online gambling not only harm China’s interests and China-Philippines relations, but also hurt the interests of the Philippines,” it said.