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Duterte told Xi: I’m not closing offshore gaming hubs

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte told Xi: I'm not closing offshore gaming hubs
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte witnesses the program proper during the opening ceremony of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, People's Republic of China on August 30, 2019. With the President is People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Duterte politely turned down the request of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to ban offshore gaming in the Philippines, citing the loss of jobs and government revenues if the so-called Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) are shut down. 

This was disclosed by President Duterte on Wednesday (September 4), as he narrated to reporters some of his discussions with the President of China in their meeting last week.

“I decide that we need it. Marami ang mawalan ng hanapbuhay (many will lose their jobs). Anyway it’s government-controlled. At this time, wala talaga ako magawa, marami ang nagugutom (I have no choice; many people are hungry),” Duterte said.

The POGO’s main customers are Chinese nationals. These casinos became controversial as they now also employ around 130,000 Chinese, prompting some officials to say that this now becoming a national security issue.

Beijing, on the other hand, asked Manila to halt the POGOs’ operations, as they have now become magnets of extortion, kidnapping and illegal recruitment involving Chinese nationals. The Chinese foreign ministry said last month “online gambling is a most dangerous tumor in modern society.”

But Duterte said his decision will “benefit the interest of my country”.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said revenues from POGOs reached almost P4 billion this year. This does not count the multiplier effect in the economy, like real estate boom and employment. Analysts say POGOs will overtake the business process outsourcing industry as the main driver of property growth in the country.

Last Month, Pagcor suspended the grant of licenses to new POGOs, as it addresses some issues.

But Duterte also warned the POGOs that they will be dealt with accordingly if they are found to be remiss in paying their taxes and other dues. “If you make the mistake of not remitting, even if you’re a gambling lord, I don’t care who you are.”

The Bureau of Internal Revenue said some P200 million in taxes were collected from the foreign employees of POGOs. If 100,000 of them would not pay their taxes and other dues to the government, foregone revenues could reach P24 billion annually.

Duterte, Xi let off steam on sea dispute in eighth meeting

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte, Xi let off steam on sea dispute in eighth meeting
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is accompanied by People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping inside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing prior to their bilateral meeting on August 29, 2019. REY BANIQUET/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

As expected, President Duterte’s bid to assert the Philippines’ arbitral victory in the sea dispute was met with a stern response from Chinese President Xi Jinping that Beijing will not recognize the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

Duterte, according to his spokesman Salvador Panelo, told Xi that “the arbitral award is final, binding and not subject to appeal.”

“In response, President Xi reiterated his government’s position of not recognizing the arbitral ruling as well as not budging from its position,” Panelo said.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping discuss matters during the bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 29, 2019. ROBINSON NINAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

But while the two countries’ claims over parts of the South China that Manila calls as the West Philippine Sea remained at square one, the eighth meeting between Duterte and Xi on Thursday (August 29) in Beijing did yield solid commitments that they will work together to finally implement joint undertakings that will yield mutual benefits over the long term.

A report of state-owned CCTV quoted Xi as telling Duterte: “I am willing to work with you to continue leading the development of the China-Philippines relationship with a strategic and long-term perspective.”

Xi vowed to work for the conclusion of the negotiations for the Code of Conduct among claimants in the South China Sea by 2021 at the latest.

China’s news agency Xinhua also reported that the two countries have achieved progress in their planned joint explorations in the West Philippine Sea, with Duterte and Xi approving the creation a “joint steering committee” to be spearheaded by diplomats and energy officials, as well as “joint entrepreneurial working committees” composed of firms that will participate in the projects.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping discuss matters during the bilateral meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 29, 2019. ROBINSON NINAL/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Agreements signed and exchanged include a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on higher-education cooperation between the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Ministry of Education of China, MOU on science and technology cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and cooperative arrangement between the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and China’s General Administration of Customs regarding the implementation of the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters.

Other agreements include the implementation contract on China-Aid container inspection equipment between the BoC and China’s Ministry of Commerce, exchange of notes on cooperation procedure for concessional loan under a Renminbi-denominated loan facility between the DOF and China International Development Cooperation Agency, and preferential buyer’s credit loan agreement for the Philippine National Railways’ (PNR) South Long Haul Project between the DOF and the Export-Import Bank of China.

Panelo said the meeting between the two leaders “went very well”. 

“The President’s activities on the second day of his official visit here in China are a reflection of continued good faith and warm friendship between the two presidents, and undoubtedly, a testament to the enhanced and enduring bond between the Philippines and China,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s fifth state visit to China will also see the Philippine leader meeting with Premier Li Keqiang today (August 30) and Vice President Wang Qishan on Saturday. He will then cheer for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup game between the Philippines and Italy.

Duterte has full plate in fifth China visit

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte has full plate in fifth China visit
image credit: pcoo.gov.ph

President Duterte is now in Beijing for his eighth bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and make good his promise to negotiate for a mutually beneficial deal on the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte’s August 28 to September 1 stay in China, his fifth visit there as Chief Executive will also take him to Guangzhou—the site of the 2019 FIBA World Cup—to cheer for Gilas Pilipinas when the team plays Italy on August 31.

image credit: pcoo.gov.ph

According to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre, Duterte, who left Manila at 7 p.m. and arrived around 11:10 p.m. in Beijing, will discuss with Xi some measures that will accelerate the pace of cooperation between the two countries in terms of concrete projects, as well as on issues of mutual interests.

These will include the Code of Conduct and joint explorations in the contested territory in the West Philippine Sea, where President Duterte would push for no less than a 60-percent revenue share, as he announced earlier. Duterte also vowed to raise the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling on the sea dispute favoring the Philippines.

Duterte and Xi will witness the signing of a number of bilateral cooperation documents and memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the areas of education, science and technology, and economic and social development.

He is also scheduled to discuss with Premier Li Keqiang economic matters and ASEAN-China cooperation on Friday.

image credit: pcoo.gov.ph

Before leaving Beijing, Duterte will attend a business forum arranged by the Department of Trade and Industry.

He will then travel to Guangzhou for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 

In Guangdong, the President will also meet with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation, increase trade and investment, and deepen the friendship between the people of Guangdong and the Philippines.

The members of the government’s economic and security clusters are with President Duterte in the trip.

Duterte to settle for 60% share in sea exploration with China

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte to settle for 60% share in sea exploration with China

President Duterte is now open to a 60-40 revenue sharing with China if Manila and Beijing would conduct joint oil explorations and development in the West Philippine Sea, but quickly stressed that the Philippines should get the bigger share.

The Chief Executive’s new pronouncement on Thursday (August 8) was a turnaround from his position last year, when he said the Philippines should get more than 60 percent.

Duterte, in a speech at the Eastern Mindanao Command camp in Davao City on August 23, 2018, said what he wants is for the Philippines to get a higher share than the 60-40 he earlier broached.

But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Duterte said: “They have proposed a 60-40 (sharing). Okay na ‘yan para sa akin (That’s okay for me).”

“Of course, 60… 60 in favor of our country,” he added.

The President is scheduled for a state visit to Beijing for the fifth time at the end of the month.

Like in his previous visits to China, the issue on the South China Sea will again be a sticky topic. 

Duterte already said he’ll be bringing up the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) to avoid more adverse incidents and conflicts between the two countries in the oil- and mineral-rich West Philippine Sea.

“Once we have set the agenda, I’d talk first about jurisdiction, the COC, and the exploitation of the natural resources of my country since, as far as I’m concerned, we own it. So that is my position. We still own what we are claiming,” Duterte said.

Malacanang has already given assurances that all deals that will be forged regarding the West Philippines Sea would be according to the Philippine Constitution and would redound to benefits for Filipinos.

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