Senate to invite BI on influx of Chinese students

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Senate to invite BI on influx of Chinese students
Senator Chiz Escudero on October 18, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Escudero will invite the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the upcoming investigation to shed light on the enrollment of Chinese students in schools in Cagayan province.

He reiterated his warning against “Sinophobic” statements in accusing Chinese students as spies while studying in Cagayan, which hosts two Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement sites and is a strategic location near Taiwan.

“There is nothing alarming about Chinese students in Cagayan, unless there is compelling evidence that they are here as spies because of our issue with China over the West Philippine Sea,” Escudero said in a dzBB interview yesterday.

He added that he would rather have foreign nationals come to the Philippines to study than sending Filipino teachers to work abroad, which could worsen the country’s brain drain.

As chairperson of the Senate committee on higher, technical and vocational education, Escudero wanted the BI to clarify some issues.

“The BI is accommodating the entry of Chinese nationals, but strict in offloading our citizens who are going abroad. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” Escudero said.

“Why did they allow Chinese nationals to enter here and study? If they are spies, why was the BI remiss in its job?” he added, noting that the BI was also accommodating to the entry of Chinese workers who ended up at Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) hubs.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who is critical of the POGOs involvement in crimes, said he would file a resolution seeking to investigate the allegation of UP professor and International Development and Security Cooperation founding president Chester Cabalza that Chinese students paid P2 million to get diplomas in Cagayan.

“We burn the midnight oil finishing our degrees, and yet we have those getting their diplomas for P2 million. This can destroy the reputation of our public colleges, which we should be taking care of. The Cagayan schools have issued a very strong statement against this allegation,” Gatchalian said during the Kapihan sa Senado forum yesterday.

Four university presidents in Cagayan denied being diploma mills for the Chinese and rejected the claim there was an influx of Chinese students amid the country’s maritime tension with Beijing.

Of the four schools – St. Paul University Philippines, University of Cagayan Valley, University of Saint Louis Tuguegarao and Medical Colleges of Northern Philippines – only SPUP in Tuguegarao had foreigners as students.

SPUP president Sister Merceditas Ang said the school only accepted 486 foreign graduate students, with different nationalities – Chinese, American, Indonesian, Japanese and Vietnamese.

The university presidents decried the “racism and Sinophobia” in statements linking the students to espionage and a creeping Chinese invasion.

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