In light of the fact that Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) continue to run their businesses, the Philippines have been placed on China’s restricted list of tourist destinations.

Following his conversation with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian on Tuesday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri briefed senators on the latest development while they were participating in a meeting of the Senate committee on ways and means.

“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines is now part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if the tourists going there will be operating or will be joining Pogo operations,” Zubiri said. “The reason for this is because they do not know if the tourists going there will be operating or will be joining Pogo operations.”

“They do not know whether Chinese nationals who go to the Philippines would be safe from unlawful acts that are being done by the triad, by the syndicates who operate Pogos,” which translates to “they do not know if Chinese nationals will be safe.” They could even be taken hostage on the impression that they are Pogo employees. Therefore, this is the reason why there has been a decline, a considerable drop, in the number of Chinese tourists,” he went on to say.

According to Zubiri, Huang made several references to the fact that the social costs of playing Pogo are “extremely substantial.”

Philippines

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The president of the Senate did the same thing, raising issues about whether or not the Philippines is aiding and sponsoring unlawful operations, as well as how it would be perceived by the international world.

Senator Grace Poe had asked Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority before to Zubiri’s speech if the Philippines is on China’s blacklist of countries to visit in the midst of Pogo activities. Zubiri had not yet made his statement.

Edillon gave the following response: “I believe the timing was also kind of terrible because this was actually in 2019 when they did this threat of a blacklist, and the year after that, [there is a pandemic here].”

There was no list that was made available. We were one of the countries that was singled out, and our attention was brought to this matter,” she went on to say.

An investigation into pogos has been launched by a committee of the Senate, which is chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. This comes after an apparent increase in the number of abduction incidents connected to the sector.

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