Palace refutes Gordon: Duterte not soft on China
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday denied Senator Richard Gordon’s claim that the Duterte administration is “too soft” on China as pressing issues involving the Chinese workers-dominated Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) arise.
In a recent press briefing at the Senate, Gordon speculated that much of the questionable million dollars being brought to the country by Chinese couriers may have been intended for POGO operations.
“This would never happen if the administration was not too soft on China. ‘Yun ang isang rason kung bakit sila nandito (That is the reason why they are here),” he said.
But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo countered this, saying that President Duterte is “never soft” on any matters concerning national interest.
“I disagree. Many (do) not know this President. The President is never soft on anything that relates to the national interest. He’s a very decisive President,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
The alleged smuggling of multi-million dollar dirty money into the Philippines is the latest in the string of controversies being connected with Pogos.
Citing information from the Bureau of Customs, Gordon earlier bared that nearly 50 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arrived in the Philippines carrying $447 million or P22.7 billion. He surmised that this huge amount could be linked to Pogos in the country.
They are also linked in the so-called “pastillas” bribery scheme involving immigration and airport personnel, tax delinquency and prostitution rings.
But despite these illegal practices, Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, said the President will only order the suspension of Pogos if he will receive a comprehensive report to back the order.
“When the President decides on something, he has the goods to back up his decision. If he has not received a comprehensive report on these illegal practices, then you cannot hurry him up. Ganoon si Presidente. Abogado ito eh. Kaming mga abogado, ganoon. Palaging kailangang may ebidensya,” he said.