‘Arrested Sinos not fugitives from justice’
MANILA, Philippines — The employer of nearly 300 Chinese nationals arrested by immigration agents last week for allegedly engaging in illegal online operations in the Ortigas commercial district insists that they are documented and are not fugitives from justice.
In his letter addressed to Immigration Commissioner Jamie Morente, Grapefruit Service, Inc. CEO Xinfeng Ou said that 274 of those arrested in the company’s Pasig City offices have valid passports.
Most also have working visas issued by the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), he added.
Xinfeng also said that others taken by operatives “have already applied” for Ceza working visas and that these are already being processed while “the rest are either visitors or relatives of the employees of the Grapefruit Service Inc.”
The foreign employer said his company is neither a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator nor a corporation engaged in online gambling activities.
“It is a financial technology solutions and offshore virtual currency exchange service provider with authority to conduct business as a qualified Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport Enterprise,” he said.
Xinfeng maintained that only three of his 277 employees were named in the mission order issued by Morente upon the request of the Chinese embassy. The three are supposedly wanted in China as crime suspects and whose passports were already canceled by the Chinese government.
This means the arrest of the 274 others “is not covered by any mission order, hence, illegal at the outset,” he said. The employer also noted that their passports were canceled only on the day of the raid.
“Indeed, this is a classic example of a flawed postscript or afterthought designed to justify an illegal act … [T]heir names are not in the Interpol list because they are not wanted persons either in their country on anywhere in the world,” said Xinfeng’s letter.
The Inquirer tried but failed to reach the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for comment.
But in a statement dated Sept. 13, the BI said that while its mission order used in arresting Xinfeng’s employees named four Chinese fugitives wanted for economic crimes in China, the others were caught in the act of conducting illegal online operations.
At the same time, immigration and military operatives have arrested 324 Chinese nationals from eight Palawan establishments for allegedly engaging in cybercrimes and other illegal activities.
Morente said the suspects face charges of “violating the conditions of their stay in the country and working without permits.
BI Acting Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. said their operatives spent weeks watching the foreigners billeted in several inns and hotels before the raids were carried out.
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