Philippines deports 180 Chinese nationals over trafficking, online scam operations

A massage parlour, karaoke rooms and a restaurant were found in a building operated by a business that was licensed as an Internet gaming company

By AFP

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Chinese nationals are seen on a bus on December 14 ahead of their deportation after they were detained in a raid in Manila. — Photo: AFP
Chinese nationals are seen on a bus on December 14 ahead of their deportation after they were detained in a raid in Manila. — Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 2:01 PM

The Philippines deported 180 Chinese nationals on Thursday after they were detained in a raid on a suspected trafficking and online scam operation in Manila, officials said.

Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino nationals were among the nearly 600 people found inside a compound during the operation in October.

A massage parlour, karaoke rooms and a restaurant were found in the building operated by a business that authorities said was licensed as an Internet gaming company.

Several women were "rescued" during the raid, police said.

The deported Chinese nationals did not have work permits and had been "engaging in online scams", presidential anti-organised crime commission undersecretary Gilberto Cruz told AFP.

Cruz said more foreigners detained in the raid would be deported in the coming weeks.

International concern has been growing over Internet scams in the Asia-Pacific region, often staffed by trafficking victims tricked or coerced into promoting bogus crypto investments.

Senator Risa Hontiveros previously warned that "scam call centres" were operating in the Philippines and employing foreigners trafficked into the country.

In its 2023 human trafficking report, the US State Department said the Philippines "did not vigorously investigate or prosecute labour trafficking crimes that occurred within" the country.

"Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns," it said.

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