Months ago, I wrote that the City of Parañaque became a hot spot for crime incidents involving Chinese nationals and that the said city had more of such incidents than its neighboring cities here in South Metro Manila.
And then the coronavirus disease COVID-19 struck the world and this resulted community quarantine here in the Philippines which was recently extended into mid-May. Under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), most businesses were halted, mass gatherings were prohibited and people were told to stay at home so that the risk of infection would be reduced. The authorities have been struggling with testing people for COVID-19 while local government units (LGUs), including barangays, have been working to manage their respective communities and perform services like distributing relief goods to families, implementing curfew, etc.
Even though the ECQ has been implemented for over a month now, there were still problems in Parañaque City caused by Chinese nationals. I’m talking about the illegal online gaming operation involving 44 Chinese nationals (with 23 Filipinos) and illegal clinics and a stockroom filled with medicine from China.
Let’s start first with the illegal online gaming operation that was found in Mayuga Compound, Barangay Tambo with details from the Manila Bulletin report.
Excerpt: Forty-four (44) foreign nationals and twenty-three (23) Filipinos (fourteen female and nine male) engaged in an illegal online gaming operation were arrested by the combined team of the Regional Special Operation Unit, Southern Police District, and the Parañaque City police Friday night.
Police said that the suspects were arrested at about 7:30p.m. along Mayuga Compound, Barangay Tambo, Parañaque City.
The police said that prior to the arrest of the suspects, members of the RSOU received a telephone call from a concerned citizen who reported that a group of armed foreign nationals were seen outside their residence violating the curfew hours imposed by the city government while the country is under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Upon receiving the information, members of the RSOU immediately coordinated with the SPD and the Parañaque City police for the arrest of the suspects.
The police said that verification was made and they found the group of foreign nationals with firearms visibly tucked in their waists loitering around the said place.
The suspects, upon seeing the approaching policemen, immediately ran inside their house. A chase ensued that led to the discovery of the illegal online gaming operation of the suspects.
Police recovered cash amounting to more than P1.3-million, 255 Chinese Yuan; 73 Chinese passports; two .45 caliber pistols; two .9mm pistols; nine internet modems, 40 cellular phones; 17 pairs of keyboard and mouse; 36 different brands of laptop computers and assorted computer cables.
Wow. That’s such an operation. How exactly was it set up so discreetly? Was the apartment owner aware that the rented place was turned by the foreigners into an illegal business operation? Also when exactly did the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) of Parañaque City discover the first details about the illegal online gaming operation? Was Barangay Tambo even aware of the illegal operation?
As a result of the arrest done by the law enforcers, the ball is now up to the Bureau of Immigration to decide whether to deport the 44 Chinese nationals or not. Whatever their decision and no matter how long the investigation will take, it is clear that this incident made the City of Parañaque look bad.
To put things in perspective, Parañaque is the hot spot of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Metro Manila with 414 cases as of April 26 and the City Government and the barangays have been struggling to prevent the spread of infection while managing the communities. As seen many times on social media, pictures of many people crowding the public wet markets (palengke) in the city showed clear violations of social distancing. As such, the fear of a possible COVID-19 outbreak in Parañaque is entering more people’s minds.
Next, let’s take a look at the illegal clinics and the stockroom filled with Chinese medicine with details from CNN Philippines’ report.
Excerpt 1: Authorities raided two illegal clinics and a medicine stockroom in Parañaque City on Sunday night.
Among those seized in the stockroom in Barangay Baclaran in Parañaque was a large shipment of medicine for respiratory illnesses allegedly being used as a possible treatment for the coronavirus disease. There is no confirmed cure yet for COVID-19.
They found many more boxes of medicine and medical supplies from China in the stockroom, such as boxes of dextrose and medicine ranging from antibiotics, anti-viral drugs, and medicine used for treating sexually transmitted diseases.
“They have all kinds of medicines. Na-amaze ako kasi puro injectables silang lahat,” says Paranaque City Health Officer Dr. Olga Virtusio. She adds, “Kakaunti ‘yung oral meds, madami ding through IV (intravenous) fluid.”
[Translation: I was amazed because most of the medicines I saw were injectables. There were a few oral meds, but there were a lot of IV fluids.]
Meanwhile, some types of medicine sold by the two illegal clinics are a herbal supplement is used as a traditional Chinese treatment for colds, fever, cough, and sore throat and a non-prescription drug for flu and respiratory illnesses.
“The team is thinking na most probably they are really catering to the POGOs around, especially noong nagkaroon tayo ng massive routing of the different clubs at madaming nakitang prostitution. Mostly chinese ang nahuhuli,” the doctor added.
Authorities said they acted on a tip from a disgruntled worker from one of the illegal clinics. The owner of one of the clinics allegedly took her quarantine pass. As a result, the helper informed officials of what she called a “hospital” catering to mostly Chinese patients.
Excerpt 2: After the city government closed down the place, authorities found another similar clinic just a few blocks away.
Police found a Chinese man claiming to be a doctor in the second clinic. He did not speak on camera but presented what he claimed to be his doctor’s license in China.
The local government said they are finding out who owns this clinics and the stockroom.
Charges will be filed against the owners for violating quarantine laws, medical regulations, and for operating without necessary permits. The confiscated boxes of medicine will be turned over to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing.
Two illegal clinics that most likely served Chinese nationals located just a few blocks away from each other…could those two be connected with each other? As for the medicine imported from China, I wonder if they were cleared by the officials of customs. When exactly did the City Health Office led by Dr. Virtusio become aware of the illegal clinics? Did anyone from Barangay Baclaran notice the anomalies within their territory?
With these cases combined – the illegal gaming operation and the illegal clinics – I wonder if there was any bribery involved in establishing the illegal operations, how much the local authorities knew about their existence, and how exactly are Parañaque officials dealing with Chinese nationals who really had no intention to follow local laws.
It is fortunate for law enforcers that a disgruntled worker from one of the illegal clinics tipped them while a concerned citizen did the right thing by calling them about the presence of foreigners who were armed with guns. What exactly were those guns for, personal protection or as a means to threaten the local community’s members?
Whatever is happening behind the scenes with these two recent developments, what is clear is that Parañaque is still a hot spot for illegal activities involving Chinese nationals and the connection with mainland China. How the local authorities will deal with them is a big question mark.
You the reader might want to ask yourself: Are Chinese nationals already setting up Parañaque to be a key location for a future military invasion by mainland China?
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