Hontiveros : ‘Disturbing’ pattern of abuse of PH visas show ‘collusion’ within BI
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said the “disturbing” pattern of abuse of Philippine visas show possible collusion within the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to allow Chinese nationals “easy access” into the Philippines.
Hontiveros made the statement after she led a Senate investigation into the alleged links to prostitution and human trafficking of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
During her hearing on Monday, Hontiveros cited an unnamed informant who claimed that Chinese nationals, most of whom are employed as Pogo workers, pay a P10,000-service fee on top of the regular tourist visa fee in exchange for easy entry into the country.
Immigration officials, who were present at the hearing, claimed they are unaware of such a scheme and insisted that reforms are now in place.
“There’s a disturbing pattern that seems to be emerging of the abuse of our travel documents. The abuse of our visas by syndicated Chinese and their kasabwat na Filipino travel agencies and tour operators,” Hontiveros said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“That leads to the niggling doubt that there may be also collusion from inside the BI which should be the holder and the only guardians of these travel documents into the Philippines,” she added.
Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, stressed that crimes and corruption are connected with the Pogo industry.
“Nagsimula kami kay Carina. So, a Filipino girl child who was prostituted, may nakasama siyang ibang mga babae, foreign women, who’d been trafficked into the country by these China-based syndicates in collusion with their Philippines-based trafficking prostitution syndicates,” she said.
The senator was referring to a 15-year-old victim of a sex den catering to Chinese nationals who narrated her experience during a hearing led by Hontiveros last January 28.
“Because of that hearing, Ivy (Taiwanese woman) came forward to say she had been illegally recruited also to work in an illegal Pogo like the Pogo that Carina was sold to,” Hontiveros went on.
In a press conference last week, Taiwanese national Lai Yu Cian surfaced at the Senate after she was rescued from a Pogo company, where she said she was physically, verbally and sexually abused.
“Now my informant yesterday says na because of the magnitude of the Pogo industry here and their need to keep bringing in more and more Chinese workers, patuloy yung pag-abuse and pag-corrupt sa legal channels,” Hontiveros said.
“It brings corruption, it brings all the other unsavory businesses that are attracted by these online gaming including trafficking, prostitution, illegal recruitment and detention, sexual harassment and then the corruption of the country’s own law enforcement and regulatory agencies,” she added.
Edited by MUF
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