Department of Trade and Industry calls for suspension of controversial China Food City

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez inspects stalls in China Food City. (Photo: DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez/FB)
DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez inspects stalls in China Food City. (Photo: DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez/FB)

The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has called for the suspension of the controversial China Food City, a food park in Las Piñas City that allegedly only serves Chinese nationals.

DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, along with other officials from the department, paid the place a surprise visit yesterday to inspect operations.

This comes after the DTI said in a statement on Wednesday that choosing to only serve Chinese clients is a form of discrimination and is not allowed.

“There should be language options or translations in these establishments. In China, Japan, and other countries, they even have English translations for menu and signages, to cater to their major emerging markets who do not speak their language,” the statement reads.

The DTI said that it did not notice any customer discrimination during the inspection because there were some Filipinos eating there.

However, Chinese-looking personnel allegedly ran through the backdoor when the DTI arrived, which the department says could indicate that they did not have proper work permits. There has recently been an influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of whom are believed to be here illegally. This has contributed to the growing anti-China sentiments in the country.

According to the DTI’s statement, it has also asked the Las Piñas local government to look into whether or not the 30 food stalls inside China Food City have proper business permits.

Lopez also noticed that some stalls used receipts with Chinese characters that are not registered at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Proper sanitation permits were reportedly missing from the stalls and there was also allegedly a lack of proper waste disposal.

He has ordered Las Piñas Business Permits and Licensing Office Chief Wilfredo Gaerlan to look into these problems and to suspend operations in China Food City, pending the correction of the necessary permits.

The DTI chief has also informed the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources regarding their findings.

China Food City went viral in February after the Facebook page The South Couple shared photos of the place, initially as a food recommendation. However, netizens started commenting that it was allegedly only open to Chinese nationals.

Screenshot: The South Couple/FB.
Screenshot: The South Couple/FB.

According to the page’s post, all the food stalls are operated by Chinese nationals and that signages and menus are printed in Chinese characters.

CORRECTION: This article previously stated that there were no Filipino customers in China Food City during the inspection. However, a statement from the DTI said there were some.

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