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Village residents want Chinese presence probed

Manolo del Rio

A group of homeowners at Multinational Village in Parañaque City is appealing to national security authorities to conduct a serious background inquiry into the throng of draft-age male Chinese nationals currently residing in their neighborhood.

The residents echoed concerns aired by some lawmakers and defense officials on the possible presence of Chinese “sleeper” agents in key sectors, recently within the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary, amid Beijing’s aggressive posturing in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In an interview, Geraldine Natividad, an incumbent director of the Multinational Village Homeowners’ Association Inc. (MVHA), said the Chinese nationals, purportedly employed by nonspecific Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) and currently “numbering in the thousands,” have already taken over parts of their sprawling subdivision.

Natividad said that at least 10 Chinese restaurants and a number of spa salons that cater exclusively to Chinese expatriates and shun Filipino patrons were established within their subdivision.

POGOs have also secured subdivision gate stickers for no less than 800 “HiAce-type” vans to service the transportation needs of their Chinese employees residing in Multinational Village, she added.

“There is an enclave within our village called City Garden that is populated exclusively by Mainland Chinese. This is apart from the numerous houses and tenement structures being rented by them. We have learned that in some cases, 50 or more foreigners are crammed inside these rented housing units,” she told the Manila Standard.

For his part, MVHA member Dennis Sanchez said he has personally observed that the Chinese POGO workers “seem physically fit, disciplined and all sport the same military-style haircut.”

He noted that at a certain time during the day, the foreigners would fall into what appears to be military formation and jog around the subdivision while wearing the same black athletic attire.

“You can tell from the way they carry themselves that they have a high level of discipline. They seem to have leaders who bark out orders when they are exercising,” he said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, MVHA member Raymundo Sian recalled that Chinese nationals started moving into their village in droves sometime during the Duterte administration, widely regarded as a “golden age” of Manila-Beijing relations.

Sian also pointed out that the Chinese newcomers have largely been rude toward their Filipino neighbors, at times bordering on being bullies.

He cited as an example their frequent obstruction of traffic flow within the village when they assume their rigid jogging formation, refusing to make way and forcing cars belonging to legitimate subdivision homeowners to a halt.

“They (Chinese nationals) have even flicked cigarette butts at us. All we are asking is that concerned government authorities conduct an honest-to-goodness investigation into their presence here. Are they just innocent POGO employees? Why are there so many of them? We have the right to have peace of mind as Filipino citizens,” he emphasized.

Further, Janet Tayag-Ong, the MVHA’s former chief operations officer, admitted that Multinational Village is a deeply divided community with two factions trying to wrestle control over the homeowners’ association.

She explained that one faction wants to preserve the subdivision’s residential nature, while another faction supports putting up commercial establishments, hotels, and other hospitality businesses, and even gaming operations.

Tayag-Ong noted that concerned homeowners recently managed to expose and prevent the opening of a firing range that would have been available to foreigners wishing to hone their skills in firearms.

“The dispute within our homeowners’ association has been going on for several years now. But that is not the issue we are trying to bring up today… There is no denying that there is a significant population of Chinese nationals in our community. We are still waiting for a convincing explanation as to the real reason for their presence here,” she said.

MVHA presently has about 2,500 members, with each member representing a household.

The city government of Paranaque City has yet to react to the situation as of press time.

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