‘Inequality’ juxtaposed: Arrest of Chinese POGO workers and Filipino quarantine violators

April 28, 2020 - 2:55 PM
Chinese pogo worker
Chinese workers of POGO firms at the Quezon City Police District at Camp Karingal (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

A news video showing the local police assisting an injured Chinese worker who was arrested for quarantine violations drew some criticisms after it was compared to recent incidents of Filipino violators arrested who were allegedly mistreated by the police.

Reports said that a total of 44 Chinese nationals and nine Filipinos were arrested in Parañaque City early Saturday for violating the onsite work suspension under the enhanced community quarantine rules. The authorities also determined that they are continuing their offshore gaming operation amid the online gaming ban. 

After the ECQ was imposed last March 17, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation also ordered the temporary suspension of all POGO firms and online gambling. 

In a video clip from GMA News, police officers were seen carrying the apprehended Chinese worker because he reportedly got injured for jumping off the roof when he tried to evade the arrest.

Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez immediately called for the Chinese workers’ expulsion from the country.  

However, according to the Department of Justice, they may only be deported after serving their criminal sentence here.  

The Bureau of Immigration later announced that it was coordinating with the police to file deportation charges against them.  

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval also said that the agency will investigate other establishments violating the ECQ guidelines.  

“We will not take this lightly. Foreign nationals that are in the country must abide by our laws lest face criminal and immigration sanctions,” Sandoval said.  

Police reported that some P1.3 million in cash, five pistols, 36 laptops and 17 desktop computers from the unregistered POGO firm. 

Selective justice to Chinese workers?  

When the video clip of the Chinese worker getting assistance from the cops made rounds online, several Filipinos decried selective justice and inequality from the law enforcers implementing the ECQ protocols.  

Spoken word artist and actor Juan Miguel Severo described this as a “glaring inequality,” citing that the recent case of the slain ex-soldier Winston Ragos who was shot dead last week 

I am all for displays of humanity but I am so furious at the glaring inequality of it all,” Severo said.  

Ragos just stood there. He didn’t try to escape the police. Grant your countrymen the same grace,” he added.  

Another online user quipped that Filipinos should just disguise themselves as Chinese workers to be treated better.  

Others still expressed support to the law enforcers amid the controversies 

“To those comparing the video to Florendo’s case, shunga kayo? Is he armed? Did he pose threat to the military? Anong gusto niyohilahin ang tao going to the station?” one user said 

Since March, the national government have imposed strict travel restrictions to limit movement and slow down the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus in the country.  

However, human rights organizations have recorded several incidents of human rights violations allegedly perpetuated by some members of the Philippine National Police. These include warrantless arrests and detaining them in inhumane confined spaces.   

Last weekRagos was gunned down by a Quezon City police officer despite calls from nearby residents to stop shooting him, citing that the former is suffering fom mental issues.  

Makati police officer Roland Madrona also made news on Monday for his attempted arrest of Javier Parra within the latter’s private property.

President Rodrigo Duterte extended the ECQ until May 15. However, this directive only applies to high-risk areas of spreading COVID-19, which includes Metro Manila.

The rest are placed under general community quarantine, which is a less stringent version of the former.

Illegal health facility   

Despite the order to suspend their operations, the local government of Parañaque City found an illegal health facility operating for three weeks before it was closed down by the city health office. 

GMA News reported that the facility was exclusive for Chinese nationals, possibly workers for illegal POGO firms in the city. Moreover, unregistered treatment for COVID-19 and sexually transmitted diseases were also found.  

Before these incidents, some government officials such as Rep. Eric Go Yap (ACT-CIS Party-list) proposed for the POGO industry to resume operations. 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that such decision is among the matters being considered by the president.