MANILA, Philippines — Because of the ongoing operation of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO), China has blacklisted the Philippines as a travel destination.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, informed Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri about the blacklist.
“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if the tourist going there will be operating or will be joining Pogo operations.”SENATOR MIGZ ZUBIRI
“They do not know if Chinese nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating Pogos. They may also be kidnapped and mistaken for Pogo operators. So, that is the reason why there’s been a drop, a significant drop of Chinese tourists,” he added.
According to Zubiri, Huang repeatedly pointed out that the social costs of Pogos are “very high.”
From February to September, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recorded 1.37%, or more than 22,000 passengers, as visitors entering the country.
Senator Migz, on the other hand, questioned whether the Philippines is helping and hosting unlawful operations and how the international community would perceive these actions.
Senator Grace Poe said, “It’s not possible that we’re making money from something, and that’s the only thing we’re going to support. Let’s also think, ‘What’s in exchange for this?'”
Senator Risa Hontiveros also emphasized the harmful effects of POGO operations.
“It’s annoying that POGOs don’t seem to be being sanctified anymore. What we have given them is a little space to do business, but instead of helping our economy, they have destroyed our society.”SENATOR RISA HONTIVEROS
The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, has now launched a probe into Pogos in response to an apparent increase in kidnapping incidents tied to the company.