Usually, it’s a case of “drug deal gone wrong” that has police mopping up and asking questions. Well this time, an under the table money exchange deal went wrong, and as the media goes wild with only small bits of information, Philippines lawmakers are once again launching accusations of espionage against the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs).
On February 27, Yin Jian Tao, a Chinese POGO employee was shot dead, and his companion wounded, in an apparent money exchange deal that didn’t work out. Yang Chao Wen and Liang Yuan Wu, the suspects arrested in the case, have been charged with murder.
When caught by police the only identification found on the two suspects were People’s Liberation Army (PLA) IDs. Police have since determined that these were fake IDs. “The suspects are not members of the People’s Liberation Army,” said Makati Police Chief Col. Rogelio Simon. “We retrieved PLA IDs, but the names and photos did not match”
Before allowing the police to fully do their job, two senators used the tragic murder to renew their concerns about Chinese infiltration in the Philippines. Senator Panfilo Lacson called it a “cause for concern.” He added: “That may confirm a yet unvalidated report that a good number of PLA members are on immersion mission in several parts of the country although the reason for it is still unclear.”
Expanding the theory, he added that the report suggested “the entry of large sums of Chinese laundered money entering the country is connected to the PLA presence here.”
Senator Richard Gordon added to this suspicion, speculating that the PLA could be seeding spies in the country. He believes the Chinese are bringing money into the Philippines through POGO employees to finance intelligence activities, adding “They are riding on Pogos.”
Those fears caused several agencies to claim they were investigating that possibility, but his speculation got the President’s office to demand more information from Gordon, perhaps in a bid to not lose face in the matter. “If the good Senator has information on that, I think they should provide us with intelligence reports so that we can pursue the line of belief of that matter,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
As lawmakers use the fake IDs of the suspects to speculate and investigate into the bigger forces at play here, the personal story of the victims starts to fade. Yin’s wife told police they met the suspects through WeChat, and had agreed to the money exchange to help Yang return home to China. That fateful WeChat encounter now leaves her mourning her husband’s end.