THE Philippines and China are working together to combat Chinese nationals involved in illegal offshore gaming operations in the country, the head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said, after President Rodrigo R. Duterte gave his assurance that Beijing is not meddling in local law enforcement.

In a mobile message sent to BusinessWorld, Pagcor Chairman Andrea D. Domingo said the two countries “respect each other’s sovereignty and laws” and were teaming up in the drive against Chinese-led Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

“[Pagcor] and the Chinese Police assigned at their embassy here are in close coordination in the fight against illegal gambling/POGO operations,” she said.

“We agreed in a meeting that the fight we must wage is against illegal gambling or illegal POGO operations and we have cooperated to make this fight successful,” she added.

Pagcor has the mandate to regulate the operations of POGOs.

On Monday, Mr. Duterte said in a television interview that Chinese officials would not interfere in his administration’s strict laws governing POGOs amid the influx of Chinese working in the offshore gambling industry.

He added that China had been urging the Philippines to arrest or deport Chinese nationals if necessary.

All forms of gambling are prohibited in China, which has called on Southeast Asian countries to address the issue of online gambling involving mainland Chinese, which is believed to be the reason why hundreds of millions of yuan are illegally released from its economy.

The Philippines has lead an aggressive crackdown against illegal POGOs, many of which were found to have illegally recruited Chinese workers.

Based on data of the Bureau of Immigration, majority of the 2,000 illegal aliens arrested and deported in 2019 were Chinese who are involved in unlicensed gaming operations. — Gillian M. Cortez