Medical materials to be transported from China to the Philippines. Photo: Xinhua via Getty
Police in the Philippines have raided multiple illegal hospitals in recent weeks that have reportedly been secretly treating Chinese patients with the coronavirus and other diseases.
Why it matters: These facilities not only pose health risks, they've also shed light on the industry many of the patients worked in: offshore gambling.
Driving the news: In May, police raided a leisure park and casino in Clark, the site of a former U.S. air base northwest of Manila. There they found a converted seven-bed hospital and drug store.
- The suspected owner and pharmacist were arrested, while a Chinese patient was transferred to a hospital.
- Many of the clients reportedly belong to the area's Chinese community and work in online gambling.
- “More than 200 suspected coronavirus rapid test kits and syringes were recovered from trash cans at the villa,” per the AP.
- Clark officials have ordered a full lockdown of Fontana Leisure Park, saying: “This illegal activity not only violates the law, but also poses danger to individuals who potentially need medical treatment for the deadly disease.”
In April, authorities raided another illegal Chinese clinic in the city of Parañaque.
- Treatment beds, IV stands, and unregistered Chinese drugs — reportedly for sexually transmitted diseases, dengue, and COVID-19 — were found inside the unsanitary clinic, according to city officials.
- “Apparently they treat their own. Many witnesses see Chinese nationals getting medicines, going in and out wearing dextrose,” said Dr. Olga Virtusio of Parañaque City Health Center.
- This facility also was also reportedly treating Chinese nationals who work in online gambling.
Big picture: Philippine offshore gaming operators cater to gamblers in China, where gambling is illegal. They employ tens of thousands of Chinese nationals, most of them undocumented.
- President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to crack down on these businesses, triggering public backlash.
- What they're saying: The Philippines is becoming a haven for Chinese criminals and criminal syndicates,” Teresita Ang-See, chairperson of the anti-crime watchdog Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, told South China Morning Post.