CHINESE nationals found to have been illegally working in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) firms will be deported, Malacañang said on Thursday, August 8.
"'Pag malaman natin na illegal, bakit hindi? Siyempre mayroong process ‘yon, may due process pa rin kahit papaano (If we learn that it's illegal, then why not? But of course we will observe due process)," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing, when asked if the government will deport illegal Chinese workers in the country.
Panelo made the remark after the Chinese Embassy in Manila called on the Philippines to "punish" casinos and offshore gaming firms that employ Chinese nationals who were recruited illegally.
The Chinese embassy noted that China prohibits its citizens from engaging in any form of gambling, including online through POGOs.
It also claimed that many of the illegal Chinese workers in POGOs are subjected to "modern slavery" because of limitation to their personal freedom.
The embassy alleged that its citizens illegally working in Philippine casinos have been experiencing "extortion, physical abuse and torture, as well as other ill-treatments."
Panelo assured China that the Duterte government does not tolerate abuse against any foreign nationals in the Philippines.
He also urged Beijing to file a formal complaint, in order for the current administration to act on the alleged abuse being experienced by Chinese workers in the country.
"My suggestion is they should file formal complaint, so that this particular concern will be raised in the appropriate agencies of the government, so we can properly respond," the Palace official said.
"I am urging them to file formal complaint on any perceived abuses committed against the Chinese nationals. Unless there is an official complaint in reference to this, the government cannot do anything. You have to file a formal complaint on particular instances of violations of their rights," he added.
On Tuesday, August 6, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) announced its plan to transfer Chinese nationals working in POGOs to "self-contained" hubs to limit their interaction with Filipinos because of their supposed unruly behavior.
The Chinese Embassy, however, expressed "grave" concern over the Pagcor's plan, saying that such action "may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned."
Panelo agreed that the Pagcor cannot make such a move on the basis of Chinese workers' rudeness.
"If you will restrict their liberties, then there might be a violation. Because if your only reason is rudeness, you can always subject them to violation of the Revised Penal Code," Panelo said.
"The issue is only rudeness and we have laws. If their rudeness falls within violation of the Revised Penal Code, then you can prosecute them," he added. (SunStar Philippines)