Here’s why there are Chinese help desks in local police stations nationwide

June 18, 2020 - 2:01 PM
In this February 2020 file photo, personnel of this Natividad Police station in Pangasinan, established a Chinese Help Desk in relation to the novel coronavirus.

Some police stations recently set up assistant centers dedicated to helping monitor and receive complaints of kidnapping and other crimes involving Chinese nationals. 

Photos of Chinese help desks found in several local police stations made rounds on social media last week, prompting questions over its purpose.

This initiative, however, had already been planned since January due to the rising number of Chinese nationals getting involved in crimes such as kidnapping. 

As early as February, Chinese help desks have been established in several police stations nationwide.

Natividad Police Station in Pangasinan said that the help desk was installed in relation to the novel coronavirus.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Crimes involving Chinese nationals

In 2019, the Philippine National Police recorded a total of 38 casino-related kidnap-for-ransom cases that involved Chinese nationals, which doubled from the 16 recorded cases in 2018.  

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac earlier said that they planned to set up these help desks in the offices of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG). 

The PNP-AKG in August last year said it would send some of its cops to China for a month to learn Mandarin.

These desks will be manned by 16 policemen with 12-hour shifts. Funds for this strategy, including Mandarin lessons for the assigned police, will come from PNP’s budget.  

“Isa lamang ang tututokhahawak, mag momonitor, at tatanggap ng mga reklamo at mag follow-up ng mga insidente involving Chinese nationals,” Banac said. 

The PNP also welcomes those who wished to sponsor the policemen’s training, particularly in language courses.  

“Kung meron namang mabubuting loob na nais mag sponsor ng mga training o mga language schools na mag bibiga ng libreng courses sa atin kapulisan ay welcome naman,” he said. 

In December 2019, a terrifying kidnapping incident along Paseo de Roxas Avenue in Makati City was caught on video and shared on social media.  

Makati City police later said that the female victim was an employee of Philippine offshore gaming operations or POGO.  

Some Filipinos, however, found inconsistencies in the local police’s report, citing details shown in the video clip 

The POGO industry is still under fire and being investigated for alleged crimes such as kidnapping, sex trafficking, tax evasion and money laundering.  

Special treatment?

These help desks, however, were not welcomed some online users who accused the PNP of prioritizing the welfare of Chinese nationals over Filipinos.  

We are officially a province of China. May God save this country.😢😢 from Philippines

One Twitter user argued that Chinese nationals are not the only foreigners in the country. 

“Teka lang ha. Chinese lang ba foreigners dito? Chinese lang ba ang hindi masyado nakakaintindi ng English? Bakit may pa special treatment sa Chinese? Hindi nga lahat ng Chinese pero bakit Chinese lang?” the user said. 

Some users considered that Filipinos might also approach the desk should they have complaints against rude Chinese individuals.  

One Twitter user shared a cropped photo of a Chinese help desk and noted on the print there, saying: “Any concerns regarding crime, reports, investigation, and requests for assistance of 2019-nCoV cases involving Chinese nationals.” 

 In 2001, the PNP also put up help desks exclusively for Koreans in Manila, Baguio and Cebu. These were eventually closed after alleged crimes perpetrated by Korean nationals decreased.