- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping set to meet in late August in discussion related to cross-border and territorial matters
- Strong worded statement, released from Beijing, urges Philippine government to punish local gambling brands
- Pressure in the Philippines builds up over matters concerning South China Sea
Carlos Dominguez III, Philippine Secretary of Finance, confirmed that the meeting between the fireband leader, Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping is set for late August.
The Setting of the Board
On Thursday, August 8th, the Chinese government released a rather sharp-tongued statement addressing the matters of Philippine offshore gaming operators – Pogos, in short – and casino brands in the Philippines targeting and providing employment for Chinese citizens illegally. The Beijing statement urged law enforcement and government authorities in the Philippines to “punish” the described entities, arguing that the island republic is intentionally undermining the efforts to bring down cross-border gambling, which gave way for millions of yuan to flow into the Philippines illegally.
The strong worded statement followed the Philippine President’s inspirational statement over the arbitral ruling over the West Philippine / South China Sea. Despite Duterte’s 80% approval rating, pressure over the historic arbitration win has been building up in the country ever since he stepped in office. Now it has come to the point where the Duterte’s US-inclined top security officers have openly stated their dissatisfaction, suggesting their patience with the president’s non-confrontation politics with China is wearing thin.
Remarks, made by Jose Tria – vice president of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) – stated that Chinese citizens with working relations with the entity would be transferred to self-contained communities within the republic, simply added more to the growing pressure.
Philippine Gambling Firms Allegedly Targeting Chinese Citizens
The Chinese embassy pointed out that citizens of China had been lured into working relations with Philippine Pogos, which resulted in kidnapping, torture and even murder.
Part of the official statement by Beijing’s Manila embassy reads “The fact that a large number of Chinese citizens are lured into illegal gambling has resulted in an increase of crimes and social problems in China.” Last week the same embassy had released a statement saying that Chinese citizens will be considered outside the law should they engage in any form of gambling activity, be it online, overseas or starting gambling businesses overseas.
The Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order’s founder, Teresita Ang-See, made good use of this opportunity to point out that the growing pressure over the matter is actually good grounds for a collaboration between China’s and the Philippine’s governments so in order to deal with this problem. Talks over the matter have been known to have started last year during the meeting of the same two presidents.
The Gambling Scene in the Philippines
The entirety of this recent event unfolds slightly after the Finance Secretary’s statement, which pointed out that the government of the republic is at an estimated loss of 24 billion pesos yearly due to the lack of declared income. This estimation was based on a sample of 100,000 Chinese employees.
According to Carlos Dominguez the government keeps working hard on issuing proper working permits for Chinese nationals but many of them remain unregistered. Evidence provided shows that the Bureau of Internal Revenue has issued 10,000 tax identification numbers in July, while the estimate of unregistered Chinese workers in the Pogo industry alone stands at approximately 130,000.
At the same time, Pogos have become a wide-spread occurrence in the Philippines and this a great asset to the local economy. Pagcor’s Pogos, for instance, have accounted for 6.1 billion pesos to the agency’s gross revenue. In between 2016 and 2018 they’ve contributed an estimate of 11.9 billion Philippine pesos.