Tighten national security vs ‘soft invasion’ of Chinese nationals: Pangilinan

ALARMED over the reported 4 million Chinese nationals who arrived in the Philippines since 2017, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan calls on the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate the “soft invasion” of Chinese nationals in the country.

“Bureau of Immigration (BI) na mismo ang umamin na 4 million na Chinese nationals ang pumasok at namalagi sa bansa mula nung 2017 hanggang 2020. Karamihan dito ay dahil sa ‘Pastillas’, kurakot at panunuhol sa BI. We call on the the DND and the AFP to look into the national security implications of what appears to be a ‘soft invasion’ by a foreign power in our shores,” Pangilinan said Wednesday.

In a Senate hearing on October 20, it was revealed that the BI has been taking bribes of P10,000 per Chinese national allowed entry into the country. Called the “Pastillas scheme,” it has reportedly earned as much as P40 billion from the Chinese.

“Where are these 4 million? Are they still here? If they are here illegally is there an organized effort to trace them and have them deported? Also are there efforts to track the whereabouts and the movements of these foreigners? In the light of the West Philippine Sea conflict, the surreptitious entry of 4 million Chinese nationals is no laughing matter,” Pangilinan said.

To bolster national security against the flood of illegal entries of Chinese nationals and other foreigners, Pangilinan proposed the following solutions:

  1. Tighten measures on arriving Chinese nationals and other foreigners in our airports.
  2. Ensure that the BI officials behind the Pastillas scam be made liable for their actions. It will serve as a warning and a precedent against officials still thinking of taking bribes.
  3. Department of Justice should form an inter-agency task force with the DND, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, BI, and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to put an end to the illegal entry of Chinese nationals and other foreigners, and ensure their immediate deportation.
  4. DND, AFP, and the military intelligence should find out the national security implications of this “soft invasion.”

Pangilinan said government’s refusal to stop the entry of Chinese nationals at the beginning of the pandemic in January is the reason why the number of COVID cases in the country continues to rise.

“Heto ang isang matinding dahilan kung bakit hindi na kinayang sugpuin ang COVID dito sa ating bansa kumpara sa ibang bansa sa ASEAN tulad ng Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos at Myanmar. Inuna ng mga bansa na ito ang kapakanan ng kanilang bansa at kanilang mga kababayan. Habang sa atin… May mga solusyon at maraming maaring gawin ang gobyerno kung seseryosohin nito ang pagsulong ng pambansang interes.” Pangilinan said.

As of October 20, COVID-19 cases in the country has surpassed the 360,000 mark. The country has been consistently part of the Top 20 countries with the most COVID cases worldwide.

Earlier, Pangilinan has questioned the employment of Chinese workers in Philippine public works projects when 23 million adult Filipinos are jobless.