ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRANTS ROW IN THE PHILIPPINES
29th July, 2015 at 08:08:04
191 suspected illegal immigrants detained in online gambling support centre raid...but 22 released under suspicious circumstances.
Philippines Bureau of Immigration raids on an online gambling support centre in Pasay City last week resulted in the detention of 191 Chinese subjects suspected of illegal immigration offences, but 22 of them were released under suspicious circumstances before the group reached the immigration offices.
The unauthorised release of the 22 suspects has prompted Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison to order an investigation of at least three of his immigration officers in the second Chinese scandal to hit the Immigration division in recent months (see previous reports).
Local media reports revealed this week that the foreigners were working as call center agents in an online gambling operation on the 6th and 7th floors of the Star Cruise building. But only 169 of these alleged illegal workers were brought to the BI main office for further investigation and possibly deportation. The missing 22 have since disappeared.
"At least 21 of those released without authority claimed to possess Cagayan Economic Zone Authority special visas (CEZA visas) while one appeared to be unaccounted, or missing," BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said.
"CEZA visas are company and station-specific. Mere possession of this particular visa does not automatically absolve the holder of any liability under immigration laws. The company and the place of work must still be established in order to validate that the visa is legitimately used," she said.
14 of those detained were subsequently released by BI main office after proving they have valid visas.
A total of 155 Chinese nationals were charged for working without permits, and subsequently transferred to BI holding facilities pending deportation.
"This matter is taken very seriously by the Commissioner. He has ordered the concerned officers to submit a written explanation on the discrepancies in the number of apprehended subjects," Tan said.
Related News Tags: China, Philippines