Amid increasing concerns over the presence of clandestine forces allegedly backed by China in the Philippines, the nation has intensified multi-agency efforts to address these suspicions.
Benjamin Acorda Jnr, the head of the Philippines’ national police, confirmed that some individuals have been detained in connection with ongoing investigations.
While these recent developments have raised alarm among law enforcement authorities, the existence of sleeper cells purportedly operated by foreign entities has yet to be conclusively verified.
Keeping An Eye On China
Senior police officer Jose Melencio Corpus Nartatez Jnr emphasized the involvement of foreign nationals, predominantly Chinese and Taiwanese individuals with links to the offshore gambling industry in the Philippines, commonly referred to as Pogos.
In response to these allegations, the Chinese embassy in Manila categorically dismissed the claims, characterizing them as an attempt to stoke racial hatred and foster anti-Chinese sentiment. The embassy clarified that it viewed these allegations as isolated incidents and vehemently condemned baseless accusations.
This reaction comes in the wake of the arrest of two Chinese nationals who were found in possession of high-powered firearms during a recent police raid in eastern Manila. While initial reports associated the suspects with a “destabilization plot,” a senior official from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) refuted this theory.
The Chinese embassy reiterated China’s adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and expressed its commitment to collaborating with Philippine law enforcement authorities to jointly combat transnational criminal activities.
POGOs: Gambling Scandal
The offshore gambling industry, known as Pogos, in the Philippines has been mired in numerous issues, leading to significant operational challenges. Factors such as the ongoing pandemic, heightened tax burdens, and intensified law enforcement measures have compelled many Pogos to consider relocating.
In response, Beijing has repeatedly cautioned Chinese nationals against working within the Philippine Pogos, citing a range of criminal activities that have arisen, including cryptocurrency scams, kidnappings, and homicides. Notably, police data has shown that over 4,000 Pogo-related crimes, spanning cases of kidnapping and human trafficking, were reported in the first half of the year.
As the situation unfolds, both the Philippines and China continue to investigate these alleged clandestine activities, traversing a complex diplomatic landscape. The unique nature of these events reflects the intricate dynamics surrounding national security and foreign interests.