China is slowly creeping into the Philippines as President Rodrigo Duterte proceeds to kick out American troops from the islands through the revocation of a key defense pact.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has responded by moving in to fill the vacuum.
Jason Castaneda of the Asia Times, wrote that “Duterte’s recent decision to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which allowed the US to rotate troops and position equipment in the country, is opening the way for China to solidify its competing strategic position in the country.”
According to Philippine Senator Richard Gordon, China is reportedly conducting undercover and illicit activities, such as espionage and money laundering.
The probes led by Gordon have included investigations of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens employed in the burgeoning online casino sector, known locally as Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs). POGOs are generally clustered around key military installations and strategic bases in the capital of Manila.
Gordon asserted that the POGOS have been infiltrated by PLA soldiers for intelligence gathering and other strategic purposes. Those claims were confirmed after two card-carrying PLA members connected to a POGO were arrested in a shooting incident in Manila the past month.
The Senate investigations have unveiled numerous instances of official corruption and conspiracy which has enabled a substantial number of Chinese citizens, including roughly between 2,000-3,000 PLA soldiers, to illegally and secretly live in the country.
Under the “pastillas” scheme, which whistleblower Allison “Alex” Chiong of the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) made public, Chinese nationals pay close to 10,000 pesos (US$200) as a “service fee” for special treatment and easy access into the country.
Although around $40 of that fee goes to immigration officers, the rest is reportedly divvied up among senior officials and other allies of the president who preside over the alleged syndicate operating out of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Public outrage against the POGOs has recently grown, spurred by the Duterte government’s tardy imposition of a travel ban on Chinese nationals in response to the Wuhan flu outbreak that has been spreading rapidly in recent months.
Many are of the opinion that corrupt officials who benefit from the POGOs and import of illegal Chinese workers played a substantial role in the decision to let thousands of Chinese citizens, including some from Wuhan, the virus’s epicenter, to enter the country even after the Chinese government decided to quarantine the entire Hubei province.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the committee on national defense and security and a former police chief, stated that security agencies recently sent him information claiming that thousands of undercover PLA members are carrying out “immersion missions” in the country, with Chinese spies operating as POGO workers in disguise.
“The intelligence community should exert extra effort to gather information in this regard,” Lacson recently commented.
Lacson, Gordon, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon have all made warnings recently about how China plans on exploiting the new security vacuum caused by Duterte’s recent annulment of the VFA with the U.S., a move that has put the legal status of the two sides’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in question.
“That may confirm a yet unvalidated report that a good number of PLA members are on ‘immersion mission’ in several parts of the country, although the reason for it is still unclear,” Lascon remarked.
“The police as well as the intelligence community should lose no time in exerting serious efforts to authenticate the discovered PLA using sources independent of the Chinese government, for obvious reasons,” advised the senator.
Senator Gordon, who is a Duterte ally, has warned of widespread money laundering and the development of a potential “fifth column” infiltration of Chinese security forces.
“There is tolerance. I don’t know where it is coming from,” declared Gordon, possibly suggesting that Duterte, who is friendly with Beijing, is partly responsible for the threat, according to reports from the media.
“The shenanigans of what we see here, all happened because of the policy decision to allow overseas gaming operations in our country,” asserted Drilon.
“What is happening in our country is apparently rooted in the very presence of POGOs run by the Chinese. If there were no POGOs, all of these nefarious activities would have no purpose,” he continued.
It has yet to be determined if Duterte’s pro-China administration will make any reforms to tackle these threats.
“He [Duterte] told me…We really need the funds from those [POGO] operations,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during a time when people want to see POGOs close their doors. “Because the money we get from whatever [Chinese] sources is for the government, so the government can use that in any undertaking.”
Black Rifle Coffee Does Not Support Second Amendment Hero Kyle Rittenhouse
At this Time, Cons
Black Rifle Coffee, a coffee company based in Salt Lake City, is not defending 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse.
The company said that it was against a tweet that Blaze Media reporter, Elijah Schaeffer, posted that featured Rittenhouse wearing a Black Rifle Coffee Company shirt captioned “Kyle Rittenhouse drinks the best coffee in America.” Rittenhouse was released on November 20, 2020 after supporters were able to raise $2 million for his bail.
In the tweet, Schaeffer posted a discount code for the coffee. Sara Tabin of The Salt Lake Tribune noted that online Twitter users “questioned whether the coffee company had a sponsorship deal with Rittenhouse and accused it of supporting murder and hate.”
This prompted Black Rifle Coffee, the sponsor of the Slightly Offens*ve podcast, to release a statement on November 21 declaring that it is not sponsoring or supporting Rittenhouse.
Initially, there was a misunderstanding about the company withdrawing its sponsorship of Slightly Offens*ve. However, a spokesperson for the company told the Salt Lake Tribune on November 21 that “We are not fluctuating our ad spend.” The coffee spokesperson added “We did have a conversation with Schaffer, and he understands that the post was a mistake.”
She stressed, “We don’t traffic in national tragedy and to us, that’s what this is. We are not legal experts or members of law enforcement. We fully support all law enforcement officials and believe in the integrity of the legal system.”
The spokesperson reiterated that the company will maintain its sponsorship of Blaze Media. She explained: “Our concern is that use of the discount code in the post did not reflect our values. That’s a concern we’ve addressed with the journalist and that he understands.”
Blaze employees “make decisions about how to allocate ad dollars within the Blaze,” she remarked. Although the spokesperson did not go into further detail about the company’s status as a podcast sponsor, it noted that the coffee company and the Blaze are in talks about “how to move forward with the allocation of ad dollars.”
Black Rifle Coffee positions itself as a pro-Second Amendment, conservative company that was founded by veterans. Black Rifle Coffee co-founder Evan Hafer released a statement on November 21 declaring that “We do not support legal advocacy efforts. We do not sponsor nor do we have a relationship with the 17-year-old facing charges in Kenosha, WI.”
At the moment, Rittenhouse is facing two counts of first-degree murder for shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during a Black Lives Matter riot back in August. In addition, he’s being charged with one count of being a minor in possession of a firearm. During the riots, Rittenhouse was attacked by Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse was carrying an AR-style rifle as he was walking down the street to protect private property from looters.
It is disappointing to see supposedly pro-Second Amendment businesses fold to the mob. Although the Left is very effective at mass politics and causing certain businesses to get cancelled, some businesses will have to take a stand. Submission to these radicals only encourages them to become bolder in their attacks.
Can Americans actually grow a spine for once?
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