AUGUST 8, 2019 – China on Thursday expressed “grave concern” over the looming transfer of Chinese nationals working in companies run by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to “self-contained” communities or hubs.
“[The move] may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned. [We strongly urge] the Philippine government to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines,” the Chinese Embassy wrote in a statement.
In an earlier interview with One News’ The Chiefs, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) vice president for offshore gaming Jose Tria said the transfer would address Filipino complaints about the supposed unruly behavior of some Chinese workers.
“That is the reason why we came up with these POGO hubs. These will be self-contained communities na iiwasan na natin ‘yung interaction between Filipinos and foreign workers,” he said.
The POGO hubs, Tria added, would tap government offices to monitor the communities.
He said local government units may also set up offices in these hubs to ensure security.
Tria’s statements came in the wake of government plans to lease three islands in Luzon to Chinese business groups and develop them into gaming and eco-tourism stops.
Chinese workers will be housed in the same islands as stay-in employees.
In the same statement, the Chinese Embassy urged the Philippine government to “pay more attention” to the Asian giant’s position and concerns on gambling entities’ illegal employment of Chinese citizens.
“[We urge the Philippines] to strengthen law enforcement cooperation with China to jointly combating gambling-related crimes [so] as to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and to promote China-Philippine friendship and cooperation,” it read.
Chinese nationals, the Embassy said, had always been required by its government to “abide by local laws and regulations and not to work illegally in foreign countries.”
PAGCOR chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo had earlier announced the planned establishment of two POGO hubs in Clark, Pampanga and Kawit, Cavite, which would be operated by Oriental Game to attact more investors and regulate the gaming industry.
With the exception of Macau, casinos and online gaming are prohibited in China and most of these businesses are operating in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines where more than 100,000 Chinese workers are employed.
However, unofficial figures showed there could be as many as 500,000 people working in POGO.