DOJ chief to meet with Chinese envoy over deportation of POGO workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is set to meet with the Chinese ambassador to discuss the deportation of tens of thousands of workers from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) with canceled permits.

The meeting with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian was set for Thursday afternoon at the office of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano told reporters on Wednesday.

Clavano said 175 POGO companies were stripped of their permits to operate resulting in the layoff of around 40,000 Chinese nationals.

“There must be a coordinated effort between the two countries to bring them back to China given that they have no more basis to stay here in the Philippines,” he said.

Remulla first bared during a Senate panel hearing on Tuesday that he would meet with Huang to arrange for a smooth deportation.

Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco previously said work visas are only issued to those employed in POGOs with license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

He said some overstaying Chinese nationals have been arrested, and that the Immigration Bureau is coordinating with the Philippine National Police to locate the rest for deportation.

China vows stronger cooperation with PH on POGO-related crimes

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the Chinese Embassy said Remulla and Huang have already discussed strengthening cooperation between the Philippines and China to crack down on POGO-related crimes.

CNN Philippines is awaiting clarification from the embassy on how or where the discussion took place. Remulla earlier said he had exchanged text messages with Huang prior to their scheduled in-person meeting on Thursday.

"Ambassador Huang said that the Chinese government firmly opposes and takes tough measures to combat gambling," the embassy said in the statement.

"Crimes induced by and associated with online gambling not only harm China's interests and China-Philippines relations, but also hurt the interests of the Philippines," it added.

The embassy said China appreciates the Philippines' efforts to rescue a number of Chinese nationals who are victims of POGO-related crimes, as well as to shut down POGO firms involved, or suspected to be involved, in illegal acts.

"The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines will continue to strengthen communication and cooperation with the Philippine government and law enforcement agencies in particular in this regard, and handle deportation among other issues in a constructive manner," its statement read.