Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto to Immigration bureau: Help us deport illegal Chinese workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) – Following the recently reported "pastillas scheme" controversy, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto sought to work with the Bureau of Immigration in deporting illegal Chinese workers in the city.

"To the Bureau of Immigration, just let us know how the LGU of Pasig can help in catching & deporting these illegal workers and businessmen. #PastillasScheme #NoToPOGO," Sotto said Sunday in a Facebook post.

His post featured Chinese restaurant Fu Yuan Ji being closed down by authorities for operating without a business permit.

When pressed for further details about the establishment, an irked Sotto told CNN Philippines: "It was a restaurant that was opened without any permit from the city. Ang kakapal ng mukha! (They are so shameless!)

"On a similar note, we are happy to hear about the removal of immigration officers who were involved in allowing Chinese workers to enter the Philippines illegally," he added.

Sotto left a warning to Chinese workers pursuing businesses in Pasig: "If you want to do business in our City, YOU FOLLOW OUR LAWS."

Sotto also warned against those attempting to use his name in negotiating with Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) in the city.

"Sa mga sumusubok o susubukan palang gamitin ang pangalan ko para makipag negosasyon sa mga POGO, tigilan niyo na. Wala nang maniniwala sa inyo. At sa mga empleyado ng City Hall, 1-strike policy tayo dito," he said.

[Translation: To those who are attempting or will attempt to use my name to negotiate with POGOs, stop now. Nobody will believe you. And to employees of the city hall, be reminded of our one-strike policy here.]

Pasig City is among the fastest growing districts for POGO offices and other Chinese businesses in the Philipines, along with Makati, Taguig, and the Manila Bay Area, among others. However, crackdown on illegal POGOs continue in these areas, often leading to the arrest of undocumented Chinese nationals involved in the online operations.

On Thursday, immigration officer Allison Chiong surfaced at the Senate to attest that Chinese nationals pay ₱10,000 as a “service fee” or grease money for a special entry treatment at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The whistleblower added that blacklisted Chinese fugitives can even offer ₱50,000 to millions of pesos in exchange for their seamless entry.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Friday that all Chinese nationals who illegally entered the Philippines with the newly-bared bribery scheme will be sent back to China immediately.