Dirty money laundered in PH because Duterte admin is 'too soft' on China – Gordon

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The Philippines' close ties with China under the Duterte administration has paved the way for the entry of "dirty money" in the Philippines, Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 4) — The Philippines' close ties with China under the Duterte administration has paved the way for the entry of "dirty money" in the Philippines, Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said authorities kept their hands tied on all posible money laundering activities in the country.

"This would never happen if the administration was not too soft on China," Gordon told reporters, citing the supposed inaction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council on the billions of pesos' worth of laundered money in the country.

"There is a patina of doubt na dahil nga malapit si Presidente sa China, kaya 'yung mga tao, 'Hindi ako gagalaw kasi 'yung Presidente ko malapit sa Chinese," he added.

[Translation: There is a patina of doubt that just because the President is Close to China, people will not move because the President is close to the Chinese.]

On Tuesday, Gordon bared that 47 individuals, mostly Chinese nationals, arrived in the Philippines carrying $447 million or ₱22.7 billion, citing information from the Bureau of Customs. He said this huge amount could be linked to Philippine offshore gaming operators in the country.

On the other hand, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte can suspend POGO operations the same way he ordered a stop to lotto games over "massive corruption."

"The President, if you remember, suspended operations of lotteries when he received certain complaints of anomalies. Kung talagang grabe na ang complaints may gagawin si Presidente diyan [If there are really too many complaints then the President will do something about that]," said Panelo.

However, he said he has yet to consult Duterte about it. Panelo also maintained there is no special treatment for Chinese nationals but he did not directly respond when asked if the government feels insulted over their illegal activities in the country.

"What is important is we respond to whatever allegations of corruption or practice, we prosecute them," said the spokesperson.

Gordon added that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Duterte already talked to each other about the matter.

"Secretary Carlos Dominguez already had a conversation with the President and is already preparing na alisin ang POGOs or put limits into it. I hope he is correct. Because if the President acts lahat susunod 'yan," he said.

Last month, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said the Chinese government has obtained a list of its nationals suspected of committing cybercrimes outside China, including the Philippines.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also revealed that some Chinese POGO workers conspired with immigration personnel to dodge background checks upon entering the country, paying bribes under what is billed as "pastillas" scheme.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue earlier revealed that over ₱27 billion worth of tax liabilities remain uncollected from the POGO sector.