The Chinese among us

I may soon be looking for a new place. My neighbors will too. The owner of the apartment complex where I stay came home from the United States to meet the buyer of his property. Nothing unusual about such kind of transaction per se, except that he’s the latest in the string of property owners in our city to sell entire apartment compounds or rows of townhouses. 

Without speculating about the specific circumstances of our landlord, I still thought it was just a matter of time before renters like me would be pushed out. A number of property owners in Metro Manila and its southern neighbors have sold or rented out to mainland Chinese, who pay in cash in amounts far higher than the market value assigned by local assessors to the areas. In our city, for example, neglected properties or those foreclosed by banks are suddenly refurbished. Tenants of other apartment complexes are skipping work to go around looking for places to move to because their landlords are suddenly kicking them out within a month because the properties have been sold. 

These properties later on house workers and activities related to the growing Philippine offshore gaming operations or POGOs. And nothing in the news about them reassures me as an ordinary Filipino, even if the Duterte government tells us that POGOs supposedly contribute P551 billion annually to the Philippine economy: 

 

  

STORIES FROM THE SENATE HEARINGS

  

 

In all these, who do we hold responsible? For incidents of crime and public disturbance, certainly it has to be the individual POGO worker who commits them. For everything else, it is  our policy makers and government officials, from the national down to the barangay levels. 

 

  

IN-DEPTH STORIES ON POGO

  

 

While pointing out these problems, I also have to caution us against adopting racist attitudes and policies. I’ve cautioned about that over the novel coronavirus crisis, and I’ll caution against that over economic and immigration matters. What we are after is for those who run the government to ensure that, when we open our borders, our economy, our labor market, our communities to migrants, the changes they bring will “disrupt” us only in a healthy way. We have to keep in mind that crimes linked by police to the rise of POGO victimize both Chinese and Filipinos.  

The questions I raise here are as good as story ideas I’d toss to reporters as they are issues we taxpayers should demand our government to address. This is also a callout for you to share your related experience, as well as your ideas on what steps policy makers, elected officials, and community leaders should take. – Rappler.com  

Until next week! Email me your thoughts at miriamgracego@rappler.com. If you want to help Rappler pursue in-depth reports on specific sectors and issues, you can donate to our investigative fund here. You can check out the conversations I engage in on Twitter @miriamgracego and follow the stories I share on Facebook.