Kidnapping, killing of Chinese workers worry Beijing — PH envoy
BEIJING — While the Philippines tries to curb the entry of Chinese illegal workers, Chinese authorities are increasingly worried about the trafficking of their citizens, who mostly end up manning the burgeoning Philippine offshore gaming operator (Pogo) industry.
Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana on Wednesday told visiting reporters from Manila that the Chinese authorities were also concerned over kidnappings and killings involving Chinese Pogo workers.
Some of the trafficked Chinese are fresh college graduates recruited from all over China to work in the Philippines and then their passports are confiscated and they are coerced to work in Pogos, Sta. Romana said.
The traffickers are Chinese
“The Chinese are concerned. I’ve had informal discussions with the Chinese about these,” he said.
“At some point, I think they will probably have to deal with it,” Sta. Romana added.
The traffickers, as well as the perpetrators of violence against the Chinese Pogo workers, are believed to be also Chinese.
According to reports, the Chinese workers enter the Philippines as tourists then their recruiters in China arrange work visas for them.
The Philippine Embassy in Beijing issues only 30- to 60-day tourist visas.
Multiple entry visas are not issued except for businessmen or applicants with family in the Philippines.
In 2018, Sta. Romana estimated that 1.25 million tourist visas had been issued to Chinese nationals in Beijing.
Started in 2016
Assuming that all of them used their visas, they accounted for 17.6 percent of the total 7.2 million tourist arrivals in the Philippines in 2018.
Tourist visas issued to Chinese have steadily increased from 1 million in 2017 and 600,000 in 2016, the year that President Rodrigo Duterte took office and repaired diplomatic ties with China.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. legalized online gaming and started accrediting Pogos in 2016.
No data on how many Chinese tourists have become Pogo workers are available, but Sta. Romana said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello II had told him that “we have to do something” about illegal Chinese workers in the Philippines.
“This is something we’re trying to work out, how to tighten … without sacrificing, you know, the progress we want to achieve in tourism. It’s how to avoid illegal or extended presence,” Sta. Romana said.
But the Philippine Embassy here likewise has a problem involving Filipinos illegally working in China.
Many of them typically come in as tourists and then seek employment as domestic helpers, Sta. Romana said.
Because they are unregistered workers, it’s difficult to ascertain their number, he said.
Last year, Sta. Romana said, more than 1,000 Filipino illegal workers in China were deported.
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