Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto‘s initiative to shut down a Chinese restaurant operating without the necessary business permits prompted calls for “more game-changers” and more “upright” leaders in the local political scene.
The local chief executive on February 23, Sunday ordered the closure of a restaurant called Fu Yuan Ji and said that he does not tolerate businesses that do not comply with the city’s policies.
“If you want to do business in our City, YOU FOLLOW OUR LAWS,” he said on social media as he shared pictures of the Chinese restaurant closed by the authorities.
When reporters pressed him for more details, particularly CNN Philippines, Sotto said that Fu Yuan Ji din “was opened without any permit from the city.”
“Ang kakapal ng mukha!” he exclaimed.
If you want to do business in our City, YOU FOLLOW OUR LAWS.On a similar note, we are happy to hear about the removal…
In relation to illegal Chinese workers, Sotto also hailed the removal of some Bureau of Immigration officials involved in the entry of Chinese nationals without proper visas following the expose on the “pastillas” scheme.
“To the Bureau of Immigration, just let us know how the LGU (local government unit) of Pasig can help in catching and deporting these illegal workers and businessmen,” he added.
Sotto also warned those who would attempt to use his name in negotiating with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGOs, particularly city hall employees who have a “one-strike policy” if they get involved.
Sotto’s initiatives were welcomed by the local online community, including entertainment and broadcast personalities who described him as a “refreshing” kind of leader in the scene of Philippine politics.
“BRAVO Mayor @VicoSotto. So refreshing to see such an upright leader in action. May you never tire doing what is right,” ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Karen Davila tweeted.
For director Antoinette Jadaone, a Pasigueña, all of the public should also have the same initiative in cracking down on illegal businesses.
“Si Vico Sotto ‘yung tamang paggagamitan ng #SanaAll!” she exclaimed.
Actress Agot Isidro, a vocal critic of the administration, similarly lauded the 30-years-old city chief for serving the public without any kind of posturing.
“Serbisyo lang. Walang papogi. Sana all,” she wrote on Twitter.
A Filipino online user likewise described Sotto as the “new face of Philippine politics” for his swift action on the illegally-operating restaurant.
“We need more game-changers, more empathic, patriotic, and sincere leaders,” she wrote.
Other cities cracking down on POGO-related services
Pasig is the latest city to crack down on illegal Chinese businesses operating in the metro.
In October of last year, seven establishments in Las Piñas, mostly Chinese restaurants, were closed for not paying value-added taxes. Others were discovered to be unregistered with the tax bureau.
The establishments were said to be “allied services” to POGOs as it “predominantly” served Chinese nationals employed in the industry, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said before.
Parañaque padlocked at least 18 Chinese-owned restaurants and other business establishments in June 2019 for operating without permits and violating local ordinances.
Most of the restaurants also catered to Chinese nationals who work in nearby POGOs.
In August 2019, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte flagged at least three POGOs for failing to present the required documents for their operations.
She also issued a temporary suspension of POGOs this January amid concerns on the rise of crime rates involving Chinese nationals in the country.
The Bureau of Immigration has recently been making headlines.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros discovered that the government agency facilitated the entry of Chinese nationals under bribery schemes called “Pastillas.”
The influx of Chinese workers in the country began roughly after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016 and shifted the Philippines’ foreign policy to China.
It was the same year that POGOs were introduced as a new industry after Chinese President Xi Jinping banned online gambling within China.
POGOs and other establishments mainly catering to Chinese workers occupies a significant numbers of residential and commercial spaces around the metro.