De Lima slams Chinese-only COVID-19 treatment facilities

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MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Leila De Lima minced no words in criticizing newly discovered underground hospitals and pharmacies catering to only Chinese patients that had been operating in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a dispatch from Camp Crame Saturday, the detained lawmaker wondered how these facilities have operated without the government ever knowing.

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“How many of these underground hospitals and pharmacies catering only to Chinese nationals — possibly for COVID-infected POGO workers as was the case in Parañaque — are operating right under government’s very nose?” said De Lima.

A couple of facilities were discovered in Parañaque, which were for COVID-infected workers of Philippine offshore gaming operators, and another was found inside Fontana Leisure Park in Pampanga.

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“It really makes you wonder how these how sprouted like mushrooms in our own backyard and the government doesn’t even know it, which by the way, they are the protectors. There’s already secret jail for tokhang [part of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs], and now there’s a secret hospital for the Chinese. What other secrets are the government hiding?” De Lima said in Filipino.

De Lima suggested that these illegal facilities were meant to circumvent COVID-19 detection in the Philippines so that President Rodrigo Duterte would be shielded from public outrage.

She even likened the setup to being maneuvers a syndicate would use.

De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, added that the reason why POGOs did not have reported cases of COVID-19 was that these had been hidden.

“This is not only an alarming attempt to underreport COVID-19 cases and to further compromise the ongoing medical response — which at present is already problematic — but also another instance of the government putting at greater risk the public health and safety just for POGO’s continued operations,” said De Lima.

“Just to allow the POGOs to proliferate, even if Filipinos are put in danger. This is not acceptable,” she added.

“All these suggest impunity for these Chinese operators and connivance with some government personalities, if not outright protection from higher office, possibly as high there in Malacañang,” she went on. “What is it about these syndicates and gamblers that the government is so helpless before them?”

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