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House inquiry into apparent influx of Chinese students in Cagayan sought

House inquiry into apparent influx of Chinese students in Cagayan sought

A Cagayan congressman is seeking a House inquiry into an apparent increase in Chinese students in the province, saying their presence could put the country’s security at risk amid China's aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, Cagayan 3rd District Representative Joseph "Jojo" Lara said he has received reports from his constituents that there are at least 4,600 Chinese students in one private university alone, and that they have been spotted in public places wearing student IDs.

“I had a talk with NICA and CHED and two private schools during the last quarter of 2023 about this. These Chinese individuals are wearing student IDs, and are on long-term lease in residential apartments. They pay a high amount of rental fees, but they don’t go out of their house,” Lara said.

NICA is the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, while CHED is the Commission on Higher Education. 

“We just want to know why. We are not against having foreign students, but what we fear is we have an issue with China. If there are 4,600 Chinese students in one private university and the private university even admits it, it is very alarming,” Lara added without naming the university.

The public, he said, deserves to know the truth about these developments.

“We want answers for these because if there are loopholes in our laws, then this presents a chance for us to address them,” he said.

Lara said he also received information that Chinese students come to Cagayan at a cost of P1 million, with 80% of the amount going to an “agent” and the remaining 20% to the school.

“There is nothing wrong with having foreigners around here, but we should not sacrifice our national security,” Lara said.

“Gusto lang natin makampante ang lahat ng Pilipino at tiyakin na walang mako-kompromiso sa atin rito,” Lara added.

(I just want Filipinos to be assured that we won’t be compromised in all of these.)

EDCA sites?

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, responded to reports of Chinese students seen near EDCA sites in Cagayan.

“Any report po, the AFP takes seriously, so we are looking into this,” AFP spokesperson Colonel Francel Margareth Padilla said in a press briefing.

“But in terms of peace and order issues po, that is the mandate of the Philippine National Police, so we'll be working with them closely on these matters po,” she added.

Signed in 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) gives US forces access to Philippine military facilities.

Last year, the Philippine government increased the number of EDCA sites from five to nine. Two of the new sites are in Cagayan: Naval Base Camilo Osias in Sta. Ana, and Lal-lo Airport in Lal-lo.

PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said that, so far, the provincial police have not monitored any complaints involving Chinese nationals.

“Wala pong magiging problema dahil bahagi naman ng trabaho ng PNP to enforce the law,” she said in a press conference.

(There will be no problem because it is part of the PNP's job to enforce the law," she said in a press conference.)

Fajardo, however, said the presence of Chinese students in Cagayan was valid and with basis, and that they had been invited by CHED. — BM, GMA Integrated News