Raps filed vs 8 Chinese nabbed in Bulacan ‘fake cigarette’ warehouse

Robie de Guzman   •   May 17, 2019   •   1338

Local authorities on Friday (May 17) filed charges against eight Chinese nationals who were arrested in a warehouse that allegedly manufactures fake cigarettes in Marilao, Bulacan.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) lodged serious illegal detention charges and other raps against the still unidentified Chinese nationals for purportedly holding more than 80 workers at the storage house and forcing them to manufacture fake cigarettes.

“‘Yan yung pumasok sa element na serious illegal detention, kasi detention ‘yan. ‘Pag may worker ka, dapat pinalalabas mo, unang-una to feel fresh, walang fresh air sa loob,” said NBI Bulacan chief Noel Bocaling.

The foreign suspects were nabbed on Thursday after the NBI teamed up with local police to launch an operation inside a compound in Barangay Patubig. Around 87 workers who were recruited from North Cotabato were rescued by the operatives.

Authorities raided the area after receiving information from one of the workers who managed to sneak out of the warehouse.

One of the rescued workers, Jonathan Garcia, said they have been subjected to forced labor for many months after he and his companions were lured by a false promise of high pay.

“Marami kami pagpunta namin sa Maynila 20 kami. Sabi nila, maganda daw ang pasahod,” said Garcia, adding that they were promised to be given P10,000 worth of salary each month.

Renato Kalaman, who was also among those rescued from the warehouse, said they were made to work day and night without proper wages and benefits. They also had no idea they were making counterfeit cigarette products.

“Hindi ka makakita ng araw, ‘pag umaga madilim. Peke o orig talaga sigarilyo, di namin alam kasi di kami marunong,” he said.

The workers are now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for processing and documentation before they are sent back home. They will also receive a financial assistance worth P5,000 each.

Authorities are still working on identifying the owner of the said warehouse where more than P1-billion worth of fake cigarette products and machines used in manufacturing cigarettes were confiscated. More than P1-million pieces of fake cigarette product seals were also recovered. (with details from Nestor Torres)

Duterte Cabinet to discuss POGO hubs near military camps

Marje Pelayo   •   August 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is not bothered by Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) hubs constructed near military camps nor by allegations that Chinese nationals could be spying against the government.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, the government has enough intelligence gathering and the President believes that the proximity of POGO hubs to military camps is not a matter of concern since the practice of spying has been brought to a higher level with the introduction of high technology.

“He’s not worried because we have the intelligence capability of knowing what they are doing. We have that capability sabi nga ni Presidente (as what the President said),” Panelo noted.

President Duterte also believes, according to Panelo, that all countries have long been spying on one another.

Also, Panelo cited the position of the National Security Adviser that the Philippine government would be able to monitor closely the activities of such POGO hubs if they are near military camps.

Nevertheless, Malacañang made certain that the matter will be discussed during the upcoming meeting of Cabinet officials especially since Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed concern about it.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has stopped accepting license applications for POGO firms which the President supports.

“Until the President reverses the stand of PAGCOR, that remains to be the policy, because the President always respects heads of departments and offices to do their duty and undertaking,” Panelo concluded. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Chinese passports to get Philippine visa stamps before entry

Marje Pelayo   •   August 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese nationals will soon have their passports stamped with Philippine visa before entering the country.

The new immigration policy will be implemented after President Rodrigo Duterte approved such recommendation from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in lieu of the practice of putting the visa on a piece of paper.

This was confirmed by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo as part of the discussions during the Cabinet meeting in Malacañang on Monday night (August 6).

Under the new visa issuance policy, any foreign national who wishes to enter the country will have to undergo vetting process by the Philippine Consulate offices before a visa is issued.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will strictly implement immigration measures so that no Chinese nationals will exceed their allowable stay in the country. — with details from Rosalie Coz

Malacañang ‘worried’ over influx of Chinese nationals

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 1, 2019

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

Malacañang has also expressed concerns over the influx of undocumented Chinese nationals in the country.

This was after National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon said that he sees the said influx as a security risk.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, it is the responsibility of the Bureau of Immigration to impose stricter monitoring against foreigners illegally entering the country.

READ: DFA chief wants to end ‘visa upon arrival’ policy for foreigners

“Worried kasi nga masyadong maraming may influx na magtataka ka, bakit nakakapasok sila. Hindi lang worry ang number paano sila nakakapasok, binabantayan ba natin ito o hindi? (Worried because there is an influx. You will wonder how they entered [the country]. We don’t just worry about the number but on how they got in. Are we monitoring or not?)” he said.—AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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