Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has warned against the planned establishment of a 32-hectare complex dubbed as "Pogo Island" in Kawit, Cavite which she feared could be the beginning of a creeping Chinese colonization.
"For now, it's just 32 hectares but this could be the start of a possible colonization if they decide to purchase and occupy more lands in different parts of the country. Mas malala pa ito sa ginawa nila sa West Philippine Sea kapag nagkataon," said De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion.
De Lima made the statement in reaction to reports that a wealthy Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur has purchased the former Island Cove resort from the influential Remulla clan and turned it into a complex for Chinese Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) workers.
According to a newspaper report, the "Pogo Island" is expected to house Chinese 20,000 workers when it opens next month, but it could accommodate up to around 50,000 when the complex is completed.
"Baka isang araw, magising na lang tayong puro Tsino na ang mga kapitbahay natin kapag dumami ang mga katulad nitong Pogo island," added De Lima, the staunchest critic of the Duterte administration's war against drugs.
The country has seen the influx of thousands of Chinese workers with the growth of the POGO industry, which has flourished because gambling is illegal in China and is heavily opposed by its Communist government.
As of latest count, the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has authorized the operation of 55 POGO operators, but only around 50 are reportedly operating due to lack of capital.
At the same time, the lady Senator from Bicol renewed her call to the Duterte government to ensure that POGO operators are strictly complying with the country's laws on employment and taxation.
"There is a need to document all foreign workers to ensure the legality of their working status in the country," stressed De Lima, who sought for a Senate probe on the operation of POGOs in the country in the 17th Congress.
In her Senate Resolution No. 1030 filed last March 2019, De Lima asked the Senate to look into the reported failure of POGO firms to comply with government regulations on foreign workers, notably in paying appropriate personal income taxes due to the Philippine government.
In the previous Congress, she has also filed Senate Resolution No. 751 to investigate what she referred to as the "immigration surge" of Chinese nationals in the Philippines which threatens to steal jobs away from ordinary Filipinos.
De Lima has further noted that the influx of Chinese workers in the country has not only triggered a property surge on many developed areas but has displaced poor families who were evicted from their homes to accommodate Chinese businesses.
Source: Senate of the Philippines