Senator De Lima airs deep concern over spread of ‘Chinese POGO virus’

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Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has warned that the continued presence of Chinese gambling firms will do more harm than good not only to the economy of the country but also to the moral, social and cultural norms that Filipinos have kept sacred.

De Lima said the country’s opening to these Chinese gambling firms, also known as Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), signifies not only the Duterte administration’s pivot to China but also its transformation into a Chinese satellite

“The opening of the Philippines to Chinese POGOs signifies an aspect of this Duterte-sponsored Chinese invasion that erodes our moral, social, and cultural fabric” she said in her handwritten Dispatch from Crame No. 725. . “The POGOs of China’s triads are fast transforming our society into a cesspool of vice and criminality for Chinese citizens,” she added, mindful of the increase of crimes involving Chinese nationals in the country, especially among POGO workers.

In its recent inquiry, the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, chaired by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, exposed a new money-making scheme that allows the entry of Chinese nationals in the country in exchange of PhP 10,000 each.

It also unearthed the proliferation of sex dens involving local and foreign women who are being forced into prostitution dens to cater to Chinese nationals working in POGO companies.

“As in the case of the Chinese COVID-19 virus, if not more so, we must, in all seriousness and determination, deal with the Chinese POGOs. The POGOs are the virus which will gradually, but definitely kill our communities,” De Lima said.

“It is about time we face this Chinese threat head-on. Before it is too late,” she added  

According to the Senator from Bicol, these POGOs now represent a national threat both to the country’s national security and stability as a society.

“In so many ways, the Chinese triad POGOs represent a danger more alarming than marauding divisions of the People’s Liberation Army because rather than invade us from the outside,” she said.

“POGOs are corroding our social fabric from the inside, much like how the Chinese COVID-19 virus destroys its host from the inside,” she added.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, had earlier warned that the establishment of what she called as “Pogo Island” in Kawit, Cavite and in other parts of the country could be the beginning of a creeping Chinese invasion.

During the 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Resolution 751 to investigate the surge of Chinese workers in the Philippines, notably in the POGO industry, which steals the jobs from Filipinos and rakes up the prices of real estate properties in the country.

She also asked her Senate colleagues through Senate Resolution 1030 to look into the reported failure of POGO firms to comply with government regulations on foreign workers, notably in paying appropriate personal income taxes.

Under SR 1030, De Lima had maintained that the government’s failure to register and regulate POGO firms and their workers in the country could lead to serious issues, including those of criminality, national security, and possible abuse of Filipinos by undocumented foreign nationals. /Stacy Ang

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