This speaks for itself
CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2019 - 12:00am

It is generally considered a mortal sin for opinion columnists and media practitioners to use “press release” materials verbatim, but when I received the following official statement from the “Chinese Embassy” I was so stunned by the messages therein that I’ve decided to print it as is. After reading it you will know why I titled it: This Speaks for itself.

Remarks by Chinese embassy spokesperson on issues of Chinese Citizens concerning gambling in the Philippines

The Chinese Embassy has taken note of recent remarks by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) vice president Jose Tria that Chinese working in Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) will be transferred to “self-contained” communities or hubs. The Chinese Embassy expresses its grave concern over such potential move by PAGCOR, which may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned, and strongly urges the Philippine government to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines. 

II. The Chinese Government always requires Chinese citizens overseas to abide by local laws and regulations and not to work illegally in foreign countries. The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has repeatedly issued consular reminders in this regard, and has on many occasions clearly stated the position to relevant departments of the Philippines.

III. According to the Chinese laws and regulations, any form of gambling by Chinese citizens, including online-gambling,  gambling overseas, opening casinos overseas to attract citizens of China as primary customers, is illegal. The casinos and offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and other forms of gambling entities in the Philippines target Chinese citizens as their primary customers. A large number of Chinese citizens have been illegally recruited and hired in the Philippine gambling industry. In many cases, the employers of Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities do not apply necessary legal work permits for their Chinese employees. Some Chinese citizens are even lured into and cheated to work illegally with only tourist visas.

IV. The fact that the Philippine casinos and POGOs and other forms of gambling entities are targeting Chinese customers has severely affected the Chinese side in the following aspects:

First, huge amount of Chinese funds has illegally flown out of China and illegally into the Philippines, involving crimes such as cross-border money laundering through underground banking, which undermines China’s financial supervision and financial security. A conservative estimate shows that gambling-related funds flowing illegally out China and into the Philippines amounts to hundreds of millions of Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) every year. There are analysts who believe that part of the illegal gambling funds has flown into local real estate markets and and other sectors in the Philippines.

Second, 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. In particular, some gambling crimes and telecom frauds are closely connected, which has caused huge losses to the victims and their families.

Third, many of the Chinese citizens working illegally in Philippine casinos or POGOs and other forms of gambling entities are subjected to what media described as “modern slavery” due to severe limitation of their personal freedom. Their passports are taken away or confiscated by the Philippine employers. They are confined to live and work in certain designated places and some of them have been subjected to extortion, physical abuse and torture as well as other ill-treatments. At the same time, dozens of kidnappings and torture cases of Chinese citizens who gamble or work illegally in gambling entities in the Philippines have taken place. Some Chinese citizens were physically tortured, injured or even murdered.

V. The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the crackdown on cross-border gambling activities. The Ministry of Public Security of China has taken many actions and will  carry out more special operations aimed at preventing and combating the cross-border gambling. China will focus on investigating and cracking some major cases, including those of organizing gambling overseas and opening online gaming, and will destroy networks of criminal organizations involved in recruiting gamblers from China by overseas casinos and using the Internet to open casinos in China. China will also crack down on “underground banks” and online payment platforms that provide a financial settlement for cross-border gambling and other crimes, and wipe out domestic network operators and companies that provide technical support for such crimes.

VI. The Judicial Interpretation of the Relevant Laws on the Application of Online-gambling Crimes jointly issued by China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate clearly stipulates that Chinese citizens gambling overseas, opening casinos to attract Chinese citizens as primary customers may constitute gambling crimes. Criminal liability can be pursued in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Law of China. The Chinese Embassy solemnly warned that relevant Chinese companies or individuals in the Philippines immediately stop relevant illegal activities, otherwise they will be punished in accordance with Chinese law.

VII. The Chinese side hopes and urges relevant departments of the Philippine Government to pay more attention to China’s position and concerns and take concrete and effective measures to prevent and punish the Philippine casinos, POGOs and other forms of gambling entities for their illegal employment of Chinese citizens and crack down on related crimes that hurt the Chinese citizens. 

The Chinese side also urges relevant departments of the Philippine Government to strengthen law enforcement cooperation with China to jointly combating gambling-related crimes such as money-laundering, illegal employment, kidnapping, extortion, torture, murder etc so as to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, and to promote China-Philippine friendship and cooperation.

CHINESE EMBASSY PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT AND GAMING CORP.
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