Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Ph attracting the wrong kind of Chinese lately.

A few nights back I was in a taxi coming from dzRH where my radio partner, Magsaysay Award-winning thespian Cecile Guidote Alvarez, and I had just finished our weekly Sunday 6-7 pm. broadcast, "Radyo Balintataw."  As is my wont whenever I'm in a cab, I would chat with the driver to get the feel of the broad masses of our people on the issues of the day.

The cabbie narrated that one evening, a Chinese guy, drunk to the hilt, and his Filipino companion boarded his cab. The drunken Chinese slumped in the backseat while the Pinoy sat beside the driver. Pretty soon the Chinese fellow began kicking the side window of the cab and the  driver, fearing that the guy might break it, told the Pinoy, "You better control your companion or I'll yank him out and smash his face." 

I could believe the Pinoy cabbie for he was really a big stocky guy, who was also very furious with his drunken passenger.


Fortunately the Chinese guy stopped kicking the window and soon fell asleep. As the cab driver recalled the incident to me, he didn't care to hide his intense dislike for his passenger, and this seems to be the growing sentiment among Filipinos---how they dislike unruly Chinese in our midst.  This is unfortunate, for which Filipino does not have Chinese blood in his veins over centuries of interaction with them.

Our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, had a lot of Chinese blood and so did former President Sergio OsmeƱa. A lot of our business leaders who have controlled vital industries, particularly the banking sector,  boast of ancestors from China, and these taipans have contributed immensely to the growth and prosperity of our country. Outstanding Chinese-descended Filipino entrepreneurs such as Ramon Ang, Henry Sy, Al Yuchengco, Albino and Washington Sycip, Helen Dee, George Yang---one could go on and on in this hall of fame.


Unfortunately, many of the Chinese who have lately been allowed into our country appear to be coming  from the wrong side of the historical tracks.---and there's increasing resentment about them, especially from Pinoys from the working classes.  Recently Sen. Risa Hontiveros exposed in the Senate how the wrong Chinese elements have been allowed into the country with quick-facilitated visas--by corrupting unscrupulous immigration personnel. Sen. Risa revealed that the grease funds are called "pastillas" -- in that they are neatly folded and wrapped, like the sugar-and-milk delicacy we love.  

"Pastillas" refers to the massive bribery going on at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by Chinese elements who are being allowed illegal entry by corrupt and unscrupulous immigration officials--- in order to work for Philippine offshore gambling operations (Pogos) that have now proliferated like mushrooms in various parts of this  country. 

As Sen. Hontiveros asserted, a good number of these foreign workers were able to enter the country without the necessary permits, by bribing their way in---the bigger the bribe the more foreign personnel can come in. According to the Inquirer story, Hontiveros claims that as much as P10B has changed hands in this "pastillas" deal involving corrupt immigration personnel and Chinese without legal papers.


The tragedy is that, according to reports, nine out of every 10 immigration personnel were involved in the bribery racket, Last week Immigration Chief Jaime Morente was sacked---perhaps not for direct involvement in this racket, but for gross negligence.  As one can imagine, along with the rampant bribery at immigration come sister vices such as prostitution and DRUGS. In a recent interview Cecile Alvarez and I had with some prominent media personalities, the latter spoke about prostitution in the New Bilibid Prisons, with inmates paying far more for "imported tilapia," i.e., foreign women, than the "locals."  

Many thinking Filipinos feel that it's an insult to the integrity of our country and people that such gambling outfits are allowed to operate here---whereas they are supposed to be prohibited in China.  The Inquirer report assert that nine out of 10 immigration officials are involved in the visa racket and that bribes to fast-track visas for the Chinese run from P1,000 to P2,000. Thus the bribed Filipino airport customs personnel net anywhere from P8,000 to P20,000 extra weekly, from these corruption deals.


I must confess that I felt quite disturbed when President Duterte approved the POGO outlets to operate here, WHEREAS SUCH OPERATION IS OUTLAWED IN CHINA.  I'm sure majority of our people don't like this arrangement either.  For one thing, I do not approve of gambling. Then too, its easy to predict how bribery would flourish, given the propensity of some of our compatriots to graft and corruption.  Moreover, with gambling come the usual seamy suspects---prostitution, drugs, etc. 

To top it all, recent news reports indicate that the POGO outlets have been evading payment of taxes---thus adding insult to injury.

Lately, there's been talk in the news about an estimated 3,000 Chinese soldiers, disguised as "workers," who have been in the country for some time now, and from news outlets, their number keeps growing. What are they doing here?  Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP Chief, and some officials of the Armed Forces and the Defense Department have become truly alarmed, and they should be.


On the other hand, the massive "Chinese invasion" has driven up rentals of houses and building spaces, salaries of domestic personnel such as housemaids and drivers. I hear that the once snooty subdivisions such as Ayala Alabang, Corinthian, etc., as well as office spaces especially in Macapagal Avenue alongside the Bay are now teeming with Chinese lessors. 

On Macapagal Avenue, restaurants bear only Chinese names, and around 5pm. Chinese employees from the various buildings come down to take some snacks.  Thus, one would think he's somewhere in downtown China, because of the sheer number of predominantly youthful Chinese sauntering around!

I do hope that the Duterte administration rethinks its policy as it's not winning points for him in this regard. Moreover, it's easy to see how drugs, prostitution and various crimes would continue to proliferate in our midst. 

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