Letters to the Editor

Why stricter visa requirements?

The Philippine Star

Strict visa requirements for Chinese nationals is not new. Why play it up now?

Since post-pandemic, China scrutinizes visa applicants to the Philippines to prevent Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) workers who returned to China from coming back.

The Philippine embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xiamen also have stricter requirements and process only 50 applicants daily because of logistics problems. Our consular offices have limited personnel and cannot deal with the many applicants lining up each day for visas.

Recently, professors from China missed three conferences at the UP and Ateneo because their visitors’ visas were not released in time.

We already have a proper visa application process in place in our consular and embassy office abroad. That system ain’t broke.

Instead, the problem lies with our bureaucrats here at home. Bad elements and illegals can go through our front door through connections and bribes if they’re determined. Remember the s scheme in 2020? Our immigration officers accepted bribes to allow foreigners to enter our country bypassing the proper immigration process at the airport.

This scam is not isolated. In 2023, the Department of Justice uncovered another scam in immigration, where foreigners blacklisted in their own countries could enter and leave the Philippines by paying P150,000.

Our embassies are doing their jobs. Tightening up already stringent visa applications will not solve any problems. On the contrary, this will drive away legitimate tourists, investors, students, teachers and professionals (including agricultural engineers, doctors and technicians).

The uproar over Chinese students in our country allegedly as spies for China has died down. These days rumor mongers put forth a new fantasy tale of a China invasion. This is a deliberate move to fan and hype the anti-China narrative. Ask our Departments of Tourism and Trade and Industry why we get the least number of tourists and investors from China compared to our Asian neighbors.

Raids of POGO operations and deportation of its workers is a much, much welcome move. We at MRPO (Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order) and Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran were resource persons for Senate hearings four times to propose the total banning of POGOs, which have created a lot of havoc in our society. But our government has taken no action, even after China requested that we totally stop POGO operations.

China has been very anti-POGO. Offshore gaming companies breed gamblers and criminals. They are also well-known conduits of illicit funds out of China, either from criminal activity or official corruption. The notion that China would use POGOs to “reconnoiter” the Philippines is laughable… and dumb.

The right thing to do is shut down the loopholes and corruption in our government here at home. Fix what’s broken: our own agencies have failed to stop the entry of illegal aliens and POGO workers and stop POGO operations all together.

Instead, we want to put up more roadblocks against legitimate visitors coming to our shores. Visitors boost the tourist trade, or bring needed knowledge in technology and investments. They are good for our economy.

Mixing the issues of POGOs with China visitors and visas will further fuel heated geopolitical tensions. – Teresita Ang See, MRPO/Kaisa

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