China has placed the Philippines among countries blacklisted as tourist destinations due to dangers linked to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said on Tuesday.
During the resumption of the hearing of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on POGOs, Zubiri said the news came from Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian.
“Ambassador Huang said that the Philippines now is part of a blacklist of tourist sites because they do not know if a tourist will be joining POGO operations and they don’t know if their nationals who go to the Philippines will be safe from illegal activities being done by the triad, by the syndicates operating POGOs,” he said.
“They may be kidnapped, mistaken for POGO operators. That’s the reason why there’s been a significant drop in Chinese tourists. By the way, they are the largest number of tourists pre-pandemic,” he added.
The drop in the number of Chinese tourists showed the effect of the policy, according to the Senate chief.
“Because of the problem with POGOs, the Philippines now is blacklisted and tourists are discouraged to go to the Philippines… He [the Chinese ambassador] kept repeating that the social cost is very high and that we wish the Philippine government would take action on this,” Zubiri added.
In a separate statement, Zubiri said that China had decided to ban online gambling because of the difficulty of regulating its online transactions. “Ambassador Huang also mentioned that based on their assessment, Chinese POGO owners and operators are likely to be connected to syndicated crimes and illegal activities, thus they are also wanted in China.”
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