China Wants to Join Forces With the Philippines to Attack Illegal Gambling

Posted on: October 11, 2023, 06:48h. 

Last updated on: October 11, 2023, 12:26h.

Despite ongoing disputes over the South China Sea, China and the Philippines may work together to combat illegal gambling. The Chinese Embassy in Manila on Wednesday hinted at a new collaboration that could help foster better relations between the two countries.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr with China's Xi Jinping
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with China’s Xi Jinping. The two countries are prepared to work together to tackle illegal gambling. (Image: Reuters)

In a message on the Chinese Embassy’s website in Manila, China expressed its readiness to collaborate closely with the Philippines in addressing the issue of offshore gambling within the country. The Chinese government has already assisted Manila in the closure of illegal gambling areas, and successfully repatriated around 400 Chinese citizens involved in illicit gambling activity.

Furthermore, Chinese representatives are urging the Filipino authorities to implement more strict measures in order to effectively thwart Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). They’re getting support from lawmakers and law enforcement across the Philippines.

China Begins to Win

Over the past few years, effective communication and collaboration between Chinese and Filipino law enforcement agencies have played a pivotal role in combating illicit cross-border activities. This cooperation has manifested itself visibly on multiple occasions, helping to reduce illegal gambling, telecommunications scams, and the perpetuation of online fraud.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has successfully thwarted transnational criminal activities through effective collaboration and constant interaction with Philippine authorities. Furthermore, according to the embassy’s announcement, it has diligently upheld the rights and welfare of Chinese nationals, strictly adhering to legal frameworks.

The negative impacts of online gambling crimes extend beyond China’s interests and China-Philippines relations, encompassing the Philippines’ interests as well. Collaborative law enforcement efforts have uncovered the illicit operations of certain offshore gambling operators withi,n the Philippines who deceitfully manipulate local matters to evade extradition and continue their illegal activities.

China doesn’t want its citizens gambling anywhere in the world and considers any form of nonsanctioned gambling illegal, regardless of where it takes place. The Philippines had previously resisted China’s pressure to crack down on gambling. But the Chinese Embassy’s message seems to indicate a change in that position.

POGOs Losing Ground

POGOs were once a thriving part of the gambling industry in the Philippines. When the country decided to significantly increase the tax operators had to pay, everything changed. Many licensed POGOs moved underground, leading to an increase in criminal activity, including human trafficking and organized crime.

Although there are still legitimate POGOs, the segment’s image has been irreparably tarnished. There have been calls for the complete dissolution of the market, as well as possibly the entire online gambling segment.

Several lawmakers are behind an initiative to eliminate POGOs, and several cities have already banned them. The Philippine National Police (PNP) is now reaffirming its position that it’s time to end the POGO run.

The Philippine Senate met this week to discuss budget issues, and PNP Major General Benjamin Acorda, the head of the force, broached the subject. He said that POGO-related crimes are down, but the severity of the crimes now taking place is up.

Last year, there were 128 victims of POGO-related crimes, according to his information. This year, in just the first six months, there were 4,039 victims, including homicides, kidnappings, extortion, and more.

Acorda expressed his support for the elimination of POGOs, a move the Senate has wanted for months. Several key senators, including Sherwin Gatchalian and Franklin Drilon, will likely push harder now with Acorda’s backing.