AFP chief, Brawner, looking into concerns over Sino influx into PH

AFP looking into concerns over Chinese influx into PH

AFP looking into concerns over Sino influx into PH

Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (Photo from the Facebook page of the Armed Forces of the Philippines)

PAGADIAN CITY, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said on Sunday that the military is looking into concerns arising from the influx of Chinese nationals in different parts of the country.

At a program marking Zamboanga del Sur’s third anniversary of its declaration as an insurgency-free area, Brawner urged local officials to also monitor the entry of Chinese nationals into the province as the AFP turns its focus from counterinsurgency to territorial defense.


“Slowly, we are defeating the communist rebels and the local terror groups like the Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic State-inspired Maute. This time as the country experiences some threats like those on the West Philippine Sea, we are shifting to territorial defense,” Brawner told a gathering of officials, mayors and representatives from different line agencies at the provincial government center in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.


READ: Calls grow to probe Chinese influx as national security issue

The AFP chief said that some local officials in parts of Luzon had alerted authorities to Chinese nationals who were living in their communities but did “not know how to speak Tagalog.”

When the houses of some of these foreigners were raided, firearms were found, leading to their immediate deportation, he reported.

Brawner added that the military is also verifying reports about Chinese enrollees who could not speak Tagalog or English.

“Why is this so? We have to investigate,” he said.

According to him, several Chinese nationals, particularly those found to have entered the country illegally, were deported.


READ: Ombudsman sacks 45 BI officers over links to ‘Pastillas’ scheme

Another ‘pastillas scam’?

He urged local officials, especially mayors, governors and barangay officials, to always be vigilant and make sure that visitors in their areas were legitimate tourists, not “possible infiltrators.”

“Let us help protect our territory, our sovereignty and our sovereign rights,” he said.

Amid reports about the influx of foreign students in Cagayan province, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the Senate should conduct an inquiry and invite officials from the Department of National Defense (DND), Bureau of Immigration (BI) and Commission on Higher Education, among other government agencies.

“We need to ask the BI, is this another phase of the so-called pastillas scam, like what happened to Chinese Pogo (Philippine offshore gaming operators) employees?” Hontiveros said in an interview on dzBB on Sunday.

She was referring to the BI bribery racket uncovered in 2020 during a Senate inquiry that she initiated. In exchange for money, corrupt immigration personnel gave special treatment to Pogo employees.

“The DND should also be invited, precisely because one Edca (Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement) site is located in that province. So any and more possible resource persons can be called to participate in the hearing to shed light on the issue,” she said.

Besides Naval Base Camilo Osias in Santa Ana town, Lal-lo Airport in the municipality of the same name was also named last year as one of four additional sites for the Philippines’ 2014 defense agreement with the United States.

Education officials “can also provide comments regarding the information reported by one of the teachers in the province,” Hontiveros said, referring to Chester Cabalza, a University of the Philippines professor who hails from Cagayan and who exposed the alleged sale of diplomas or degrees to foreign students.

Hontiveros said one cannot help but be suspicious about the presence of these foreign students in Cagayan which she described as “a national security concern that must be addressed.”


Representatives Joseph Lara of Cagayan’s third district and Faustino Dy V of Isabela’s sixth district had earlier filed resolutions calling for an inquiry into the presence of Chinese nationals in the Cagayan Valley region.

Lara said their presence “poses serious concern to the national security,” considering the country’s maritime dispute with China.

But civic leader Teresita Ang See on Saturday slammed this “dangerous and unfortunate” issue as stoking “Sinophobia and racism,” adding that officials who have weighed in on this matter should check their facts first.

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Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III also cautioned officials to be “careful in echoing the allegations” raised regarding this matter.

TAGS: AFP, Sino influx

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