Pogo’s curse: PH on China’s blacklist of tourist sites over offshore gambling ops — Zubiri
MANILA, Philippines — Amid the continuous operations of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), the Philippines has been included in China’s blacklist of tourist destinations.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri shared the development with senators during the Senate committee on ways and means hearing on Tuesday following his discussion with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if the tourist going there will be operating or will be joining Pogo operations,” Zubiri said.
“They do not know if Chinese nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating Pogos. They may also be kidnapped and mistaken for Pogo operators. So, that is the reason why there’s been a drop, a significant drop of Chinese tourists,” he added.
According to Zubiri, Huang repeatedly pointed out that the social costs of Pogos are “very high.”
The Senate president likewise raised questions on whether or not the Philippines is assisting and hosting illegal activities and how that would sit with the international community.
Before Zubiri’s remark, Senator Grace Poe asked National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon if the Philippines is part of China’s blacklist of countries to visit amid Pogo operations.
READ: China vows stronger cooperation with PH as Pogo workers’ deportation looms
Edillon responded: “I think the timing was also kind of unfortunate because this was actually in 2019 when they did this threat of a blacklist and the year afterward, [there] is a pandemic here.
“No list was released. We were one of those countries called out, our attention was called,” she added.
The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, opened an investigation on Pogos amid the alleged spike of abduction cases linked to the industry.
—With reports from Kristelle Razon, trainee
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