Duterte legacy: Chinese criminals
Last Saturday, according to the Bulletin, six Chinese men tried to abduct an 18-year-old Filipina as she waited for a taxi outside her home in Makati City. Barangay tanod or village watchmen were able to arrest four of the men, all of them in their 20s; two escaped. This was not the first attempted abduction of a vulnerable young woman by Chinese nationals in the Philippines; the Anti-Kidnapping Group of the Philippine National Police had already reported an increase in the number of kidnappings of Chinese nationals by other Chinese. (The pnpakg.org website is full of such stories.) There has been a similar, even more worrying increase in the number of prostitution dens servicing Chinese nationals working in the Philippines as employees of Philippine offshore gaming operator (or Pogo) facilities.
But last Saturday’s attempted kidnapping by Chinese nationals was likely the first to be reported under the Duterte administration that involved a Filipina victim. Given the Duterte administration’s proven inutility against Chinese aggression, we can readily conclude that this incident won’t be the last. Those who have rationalized the spike in these related crimes of kidnapping and prostitution as a Chinese-only issue badly need a reality check. If you turn the country into a battlefield for Chinese criminal syndicates, as the administration has WILLINGLY done, you should expect your own countrymen to be turned, not only into collateral damage, but into cannon fodder.
Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, now formally designated as the new chief of the PNP, said he was considering putting up “Chinese desks” in the police organization. “We need the cooperation of the Chinese people through their embassy. We will establish Chinese desks and cross training on language, on the culture so that [we can better understand] why they are doing this and how they’re going to do it.” He also told reporters that the Chinese Embassy was organizing study visits. “There are a lot of invitations, a lot of specialized schoolings and visits that has been initiated by the Chinese government of sending members of the PNP to China so that we would understand more their culture and how their syndicates do their thing in China and probably the same that they do here in the Philippines.”
These are good next steps, but hardly sufficient. What is lacking from Gamboa’s well-intentioned statements is a sense of urgency; he sounds exactly as if the victims of these Chinese criminal syndicates are limited to Chinese nationals. Now that the first report of an attempted abduction of a Filipina is out, Filipino citizens should demand greater resolve and clearer foresight from the police. (I know. It’s a tough ask. But we should still demand them of the police anyway.)
One of President Duterte’s governance priorities has been the pivot to China. Three years into his chaotic term, he continues to fail to convince the majority of voting-age Filipinos of the importance of that priority. In the September 2019 Social Weather Stations survey, 70 percent of adult Filipinos said they were worried (“nababahala”) about the increasing number of Chinese foreigners working in the country. (In SWS parlance, 31 percent are worried a great deal; 39 percent are somewhat worried.) A majority or 52 percent of the respondents agreed (27 percent strongly, 25 percent somewhat) that “the increasing number of foreign Chinese working here in the Philippines is a threat to the country’s overall security.”
Doesn’t the Duterte administration swear by the surveys? Didn’t the PNP itself use survey ratings to defend the conduct of the war on drugs from Vice President Leni Robredo’s evidence-based report? Well, then, these are some statistics that should put some steel in Gamboa’s spine, and in those of his officers. The people they are sworn to protect see great danger in the surge of Chinese nationals entering the country. The least they can do is ensure that the two Chinese kidnappers who escaped last Saturday be found, and all six men brought to justice. But they should also expand the scope of their Chinese desks, precisely to prevent more Filipinos from falling victim to Chinese criminal syndicates.We haven’t even spoken yet about Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, or creeping Chinese crony/state capitalism in the Philippine economy, or Chinese drug syndicates plying their trade in our cities. But read between the lines of the surveys, and the sense that Filipinos recognize the danger in its many forms is unmistakable.
In Bisaya, “inutil” is a sharp insult; the reality is, in the face of Chinese crimes, President Duterte is inutil. That is (part of) the true Duterte legacy.
[On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand, email: [email protected]]
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