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THE MAIN PLAYER
When Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines on June 30, 2016, a whole new era began in the relationship of Malacañang Palace with the outside world.
As Mayor of Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao, the brutality and outside-the-law activities of his regime had been notorious. Now he has brought the same ruthlessness and lack of scruples to the Philippine presidency.
Unlike his predecessors in both civilian and military leadership in Manila, Duterte is really no friend of the United States. In fact, it’s a little hard to say who his friends really are. He opportunistically tries to play the USA and China against each other.
The current Philippine president has no clear policy whatsoever regarding Chinese hegemony and the threat to Philippine sovereignty in the South China Sea. What he says today will be 180° different from what comes out of his mouth tomorrow.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has begun issuing a new licence called Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo). Duterte originally opposed this but later said it was better to tax online gaming companies than to fight them. There are said to be 57 Pogos in the Philippines.
Initial concerns were that the influx of Mandarin-only-speaking Chinese would take jobs away from Filipinos. Some reports indicate as many as 250,000 ~ yes, a quarter million ~ Chinese workers in the Philippines.
It’s tempting to say that is a small army. But those words may ring more true than anybody now realizes.
Let’s look at excerpts from some recent Philippine media reports about the potential of having all these unvetted Chinese workers in their midst.
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers yesterday raised concern about the presence of what they described as military-looking Chinese workers in a Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO) facility in Las Piñas City.
Rep. Eric Pineda of 1Pacman party-list, who chairs the House committee on labor, said residents have seen some Chinese workers whose haircuts and body build resemble that of soldiers.
“They look like military men who sport clean haircuts and are physically fit like soldiers,” Pineda told reporters.
Sandoval said the current procedures allow Chinese with tourist visas to enter the country. “If they intend to work here upon their arrival, their tourist visa will be converted into working visa,” she said.
As of June 9, Estemo said there are 56 licensed POGO companies in the Philipines that employ about 100,000 to 250,000 Chinese workers.
He said there are around 30 illegal offshore gaming facilities.
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (Aug. 16) raised concern over the location of Chinese casinos, also known as Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo), which appeared to be too close for comfort to Philippine military camps in Metro Manila.
He cited the locations of Chinese casinos at Araneta Center and Eastwood which are within striking distance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.
The Philippine defense installations near the Chinese casinos, which employ an army of up to 130,000 Chinese workers, included Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine National Police headquarters Camp Crame, the Air Force headquarters in Pasay City, the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig City and the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard.
In Kawit, Cavite, a 36-hectare former resort is being transformed into a Pogo hub that can accommodate up to 20,000 Chinese workers. The site is just 3 kilometers from a facility being used by the Philippine Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing and Philippine naval base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, a former US base in Cavite province.
The Philippine National Police, in a report in INQUIRER.net on Thursday (Aug. 15), estimated the number of Chinese nationals who are already in the Philippines to be 250,000, nearly the same as the manpower of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines].
The defense chief said if he had his way, casinos for Chinese should not be near Philippine military camps.
MANILA – China can spy on the Philippines even from afar, President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted as saying by his spokesperson on Monday, after his defense minister warned that gambling hubs run by the Chinese might be used for espionage.
The following comment was received from a knowledgeable source who wishes to remain anonymous:
What the article doesn’t mention is at a certain hotel in the Malate Manila area of the city which is down the street from the US Embassy, on the 32nd & I believe also the 33rd floor of the hotel is Chinese online gaming. Could be spying on the Embassy also.
It should be noted that while Beijing claims to want Manila to shut down these offshore gaming operations which are illegal in China, this is an obvious ploy by the CCP which has much to gain from them. Any crackdown by authorities in the Philippines is more likely to be for tax evasion than out of any national security concerns.
It is obvious that this PLA Peril is well-documented and well-publicized in the Philippines. Even the Philippines Head of State is fully aware of the threat to his country’s sovereignty, but he appears willing to let it continue as long as it continues to bring billions of Pesos into the Philippine Treasury.
The United States Embassy in Manila needs to take concerted action to counteract any Chinese spying attempts through these offshore gambling operations which well may have a very large contingent of able-bodied PLA members embedded within them.
The Philippines is not what it once was before the American bases were closed after the Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption in 1991. We no longer have our own eyes and ears conveniently placed throughout the Philippine archipelago as we once did.
We also have now to contend with a Philippine president like none who went before him. He is a loose cannon and nobody knows where his next cannonball will land. I doubt that he himself even knows.
The United States needs to ensure this Chinese penetration of the Philippines is elevated to a very high priority in our own counter espionage posture. Americans living and traveling in the Philippines should remain circumspect.
We need to revise our Eurocentric perspective in this country as China co-opts our longtime friends and allies in the Philippines. If we are caught napping, we will awake sliding down the long slippery bamboo chute.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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