MANILA

Palace 'worried' over influx of Chinese nationals

MALACAÑANG on Thursday, August 1, raised concern over the seeming influx of Chinese nationals in the Philippines.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Immigration officials should take appropriate actions to address the growing number of Chinese nationals in the country.

"[We are] worried kasi nga masyadong maraming [Chinese nationals]. May influx na magtataka ka bakit nakakapasok sila. So hindi lang namin worry 'yung number, ang worry mo pa kung paano sila nakakapasok. Binabantayan ba natin to o hindi?" Panelo said.

(We are worried because there are so many Chinese nationals. There is influx. You will wonder how they entered the country. Do we monitor this or not?)

"The Immigration will have to do something about the entry of foreign nationals in this country, whether or not they are Chinese," he added.

Panelo issued the statement after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Wednesday, July 31, viewed the surge of Chinese nationals in the country as a security threat.

A total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens entered the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018, according to the Bureau of Immigration.

Asked if the Palace considers the presence of Chinese tourists in the country as a security risk, Panelo said: "Eh kung masyadong marami na (if there are too many)." He did not say what is considered as "too many".

Also on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. opposed the current scheme of granting "visas on arrival" and suggested that visiting Chinese nationals should first undergo vetting process before being issued a visa.

Panelo said the Palace was amenable to Locsin's proposal.

"I agree with Secretary Locsin. Kailangan talaga vine-vet. Kasi kapag tayo humihingi ng visa, nahihirapan din tayong kumuha ng visa sa mga iba't ibang bansa because they vet. Tinitignan muna nila," he said.

(I agree with Secretary Locsin. We really need to vet. In our case, we also find it difficult to get a visa to other countries because they vet. They vet first.)

On January 24, Panelo said the current administration was not alarmed that many Chinese nationals have preferred to seek jobs in the Philippines as long as they undergo "lawful" process.

Duterte, in a speech delivered on February 23, said Chinese nationals should be allowed to work in the country.

Panelo said the policy on allowing Chinese workers in the Philippines remains unchanged.

"Ang policy natin doon, kung kailangan natin ng Chinese workers na hindi kaya ng Pilipino, we will allow them. 'Yun ang ating policy (Our policy is if we need Chinese workers due to Filipinos' lack of skills, we will allow them. That's our policy)," the Palace official said.

"Pero kung 'yung kanilang pag-stay dito, more on they want to work here but they are still violating the immigration laws, eh madaling gawan ng paraan 'yun. We'll just expel them legally," he added.

(But if they stay here is more on they want to work here but they are still violating the immigration laws, it can be easily addressed. We'll just expel them legally.) (SunStar Philippines)


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