So, are the authorities giving Chinese nationals in the country VIP treatment?
The question was asked by netizens following a number of photos posted on social media showing Philippine National Police (PNP) officers manning help desks purportedly dedicated to Chinese nationals.
The mounting wave of criticism reached Philippine National Police (PNP), which issued a statement through its spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac.
“These are old photos of various tourist police help desks taken in previous years during the surge in arrivals of Chinese tourists and until early this year when the Chinese embassy sought the help of the PNP to address the rising number of Chinese nationals getting involved or victimized in crimes, such as kidnapping related to POGOs [Philippine online gaming operations] and casino loan shark operations.”
He further clarified these help desks eventually “became irrelevant and were subsequently repurposed when the country was placed under public health emergency.”
The PNP spokesperson was referring to the enforced community quarantine implemented in different parts of the country starting March 17, 2020.
Batac added: “However, the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group [PNP-AKG] continues to maintain a help desk for kidnapping cases involving Chinese tourtists, expats, and gaming workers.”
The statistics released by PNP-AKG reveal there had been six “Pogo-related kidnappings” from January to November 2019.
There was a total of 36 “casino-related kidnappings,” most of which involved Chinese nationals, in 2019.
The number of cases last year apparently increased, compared with the 17 cases in 2017 and 16 cases in 2018.