Philippines Shuts 175 Gambling Firms and Plans to Deport 40,000 Chinese Workers

  • Deportation will begin in October with about 3,000 Chinese workers heading back to China
  • Move follows brutal crimes “committed by Chinese nationals against fellow Chinese nationals”
  • DOJ wants to ensure Filipinos won’t become victims of the crimes that are linked to POGOs
  • The UN warns of a growing criminal threat from gambling-linked crime networks in SE Asia
Philippines and China flags
Criminally-minded gambling operators spreading across Southeast Asia have received a blow in the Philippines after officials nixed 175 online gambling permits, with plans to deport 40,000 Chinese workers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Brutal and criminal

In the same week the UN warned of the brutality and criminality of Chinese-operated casinos in the Golden Triangle of Northeast Asia, the Philippines has moved to rid itself of hundreds of offshore gambling operators (POGOs).

intially deporting about 3,000 Chinese workers in October

On Monday, Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano said the DOJ was shuttering 175 online gambling companies, as well as initially deporting about 3,000 Chinese workers in October. The DOJ aims to repatriate 40,000 workers to China by the end of the year.

Clavano said the move to shutter the firms and deport the workers came from “reports of murder, kidnapping and other crimes committed by Chinese nationals against fellow Chinese nationals.”

Clavano’s comments came at the ‘Laging Handa’ public briefing on Monday after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) scrapped the permits of 175 POGO firms following their alleged links to a series of related crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Officials claim the victims and perpetrators of said crimes are usually Chinese.

The DOJ spokesperson cited video evidence of the POGO’s illegal behavior. He said: “When you see the videos, what Chinese nationals are doing here is dangerous.”

Regional threat

Equivalent illegal Chinese-operated gambling venues in Southeast Asia countries neighboring the Philippines are casting an increasingly darkening pall over the region.

A week ago, 60 Vietnamese nationals escaped from captivity in an exploitative casino in Cambodia. In a similar case in August, 40 Vietnamese citizens swam a deadly river to escape exploitation in a Chinese-owned casino also in Cambodia. Earlier in May, a Thai woman swam a river at night to escape a casino in Myanmar which she claimed had another 300 women held captive as sex slaves.

With illegal operations luring thousands of victims to Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) from other Southeast Asia countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the latter has moved to ensure that the mostly Chinese-on-Chinese crimes stay that way.

Clavano said the DOJ wants to protect Filipinos, and ensure they won’t become vicitims of the crimes that are linked to the POGOs.

UN warning

According to the Philippine Star, DOJ secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has already met with the Chinese embassy to facilitate the “smooth” deportation of the 40,000 workers.

The news comes after the Voice of America on Sunday cited the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s warning of a:

growing criminal threat’ from the Philippines’ neighboring Golden Triangle region.”

The UN department said that the “region’s special economic zones […] and the casinos that often anchor them have also become major trafficking and money laundering hubs for the crime networks.”