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Monday, May 20, 2024

Senate open to investigating reported influx of Chinese students in Cagayan—Pimentel

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Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said their chamber is open to conduct an investigation into the reported influx of Chinese students in the country.

Pimentel said this is imperative to establish the facts behind the issue and avoid jeopardizing the education of the foreign students in question.

“There can be a (Senate) hearing, so they formally give us the facts to see if there is a need to study the regulations of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Because this is not only a law, but rules and regulations of CHED,” he said.

According to Pimentel, there are also many foreign students enrolled in medicine, dentistry and other courses in several schools across Metro Manila. “If Cagayan is attractive to them, so be it,” he said.

Bureau of Immigration commissioner Norman Tansingco clarified there are only 400 documented students enrolled at St. Paul University Philippines in Tuguegarao City, the capital of Cagayan—a far cry from the more than 4,000 as reported in the media.

If this is the only number of Chinese enrollees, Pimentel said the situation is not alarming.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, disagreed. She described the issue as another version of the infamous ‘pastillas scam,’ which also implicated some members of the BI in the past.

Under the scam, BI airport personnel allegedly received P10,000 bribes to allow foreigners—mostly Chinese—to enter the country without going through the proper immigration process at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Hontiveros noted that the visa upon arrival privileges and other immigration processes have been abused. She gathered that this could also be the case of the Chinese students in Cagayan.

The senator rejected the claim of Tuguegarao Mayor Maila Rosario Ting Que that criticizing the presence of the Chinese students amounted to discrimination and racial profiling.

“The Senate should look into the reported presence of Chinese nationals around EDCA sites. This is a national security concern that must be addressed,” Hontiveros said in a recent statement.

The National Security Council is now investigating reports of an influx of Chinese students in areas close to military bases that can be accessed by American troops, in particular in Cagayan province.

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