The Iloilo ‘Tsinoy’ community is now safe from extortion, blackmail?

Posted by watchmen
February 7, 2019
Posted in OPINION

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” –Steve Jobs


It is a welcome observation to see the Filipino-Chinese community is no longer shocked by the peace and order of Iloilo City as they appear to be “at home” with the current privileges enjoyed under the current mayoral administration and local Philippine National Police (PNP) authorities. The situation is drastically different from the days when Iloilo City Hall was at odds with the Tsinoy community. More than 30 years ago, the Tsinoy community and the PNP suffered a stormy relationship due to extortion, harassment, and blackmail situations, along with “shabby” treatment extended to those who refused to toe the line with the powers-that-be.

The years when most “mestizo de sangley” (the sons and daughters of Filipino and Chinese parents) never trusted anybody in City Hall or the PNP are gone. I was a City Hall reporter in 1989 when then-Iloilo City Mayor Rodolfo ‘Roding’ Ganzon blasted then-Regional Command-6 director, General Romeo Zulueta, for his alleged involvement with a kidnapping-for-ransom syndicate operating in the Western Visayas. Pressing the general for a reaction, he only muttered, “Naniniwala pa ba kayo kay Ganzon (Do you still believe Ganzon)?”

Zulueta neither denied nor challenged the accusations he was involved in the abduction of a prominent Filipino-Chinese millionaire and an Ilonggo media and jewelry magnate, who were both released after reportedly paying millions in ransom.

If the allegations against Zulueta were true (they were never substantiated as no formal case was every brought forward), it would be the perfect reason for Tsinoy traders to abandon Iloilo City. For any dyed-in-the-wool Tsinoy trader, putting up a business and managing it in a squalid and unpredictable atmosphere was like participating in a scary reality film. The distrust and animosity was exacerbated by reports that claimed some extortionists and blackmailers, introducing themselves as “City Hall employees” and “cops,” mostly victimized local businesses run by Tsinoy businessmen. These were the years when bank robberies and other such crimes were rampant and most perpetrators had direct or indirect linked with rogue cops; social media like Skype and Facebook didn’t exist yet.

The Filipino-Chinese community in Iloilo City was remains one of the most well-organized communities in the Philippines.

The Calle Real is part of the Filipino-Chinese business empire. It is a place where shoppers can buy all kinds of household goods, school supplies, groceries, medical necessities, and other industrial materials. This was a time when giant malls like SM City, Robinsons, and Gaisano City had not yet been conceptualized.

It is good to see an atmosphere of bliss, cooperation, and prosperity in the city, especially after various sectors worked together to welcome the Chinese New Year. No less than Philippine-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.-Iloilo Chapter President Ramon Cua Locsin confirmed that Tsinoy businessmen are now comfortable doing business and living in Iloilo City because they now feel safe.

He added, the environment is better compared in other cities, provinces, and municipalities in the Philippines./WDJ

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