Some Chinese students in Cagayan allegedly pay P2 million to get degrees

This photo shows an aerial view of Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan province, northern Philippines on August 3, 2023. The Lal-lo Airport is one of the additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / POOL / AFP)

This photo shows an aerial view of Lal-lo Airport in Cagayan on August 3, 2023. The airport is one of the additional sites for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) between the Philippines and the United States. (File picture by JAM STA ROSA / POOL / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — Some of the mainland Chinese students in Cagayan are reportedly shelling out P2 million to obtain their degrees.

Some of them are not even bothering to attend their classes.

Chester Cabalza, a University of the Philippines professor and a native of the province which faces Taiwan, made the revelation on Wednesday.

The revelation came amid worries about the reported surge of Chinese students’ presence in the area, given that there are now two Filipino military stations in Cagayan where American troops have been given access.

“It seems that Chinese students in Cagayan universities and colleges are said to have been paying P2 million to obtain degrees,” Cabalza told in a text message, citing the stories of locals in the province.

“According to reports, many of these students are not attending classes,” said the founder of think tank International Development and Security Cooperation.

Cabalza suspects the institutions that give college education or masters’ degrees to the students are being used as “milking cows.”

“Many of the local professors in town are spilling the beans,” he also said.

Students’ ‘greater objective’

In April 2023, Marcos allowed the United States access to four more Philippine military bases under the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), which allows Washington to store equipment and their troops in the complexes.

Two of the newly-approved Edca sites are located in Cagayan, which is relatively near Taiwan.

Taiwan is a self-ruled island regarded by China as a renegade province subject to reunification.

The new Edca sites irked Beijing, stressing that the agreement was made so that Washington could “encircle and contain China.”

China warned this situation would drag the Philippines into “the Taiwan question,” a claim that was rejected by Manila.

“There may be a greater objective to their presence in the province amid the increasing geopolitical tensions,” Cabalza pointed to the presence of the Chinese.

He added that the province “is seen as a strategic bullseye of the hegemonic rivalry between the US and China.”

Stricter visa rules

In view of this, Cabalza believes the government should impose stricter visa rules for foreign students.

“The government should be stringent in the visa processing of these foreign students,” he said.

He also urged the government to come up with “clear and transparent provisions” in the selection and admittance of Chinese who want to study in Cagayan.

Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba said the Chinese students in the province entered the country legally to pursue their studies under a partnership between Chinese learning institutions and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd).

The CHEd has yet to issue a statement on these reports.

Two Cagayan Valley lawmakers have filed separate resolutions asking the appropriate committee of the House of Representatives to look into this matter.

READ: Why influx of Sino students in Cagayan Valley? Solons ask

AFP ‘working closely’ with PNP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also said it is communicating this concern with the Philippine National Police, its spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said on Tuesday.

“We’ll be working with them closely on this matter,” Padilla said in a press conference.

“Investigations will be on their end and if there will be AFP requirements from their end, then, we will be extending our assistance accordingly,” she also said.

The issue erupted on the heels of controversy surrounding the Beijing half marathon where three African runners were said to have deliberately allowed a Chinese athlete to win.