Hunt on for Chinese drug suspects using legit PH IDs

PHOTO: Robert Ace Barbers STORY: Hunt on for Chinese drug suspects using legit PH IDs

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers. (File photo by NINO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Wednesday urged local governments, the Philippine Statistics Authority, and the Bureau of Immigration to catch the members of a “Chinese mafia” that has reportedly been procuring through illegal means legitimate Philippine passports for Chinese nationals posing as Filipino traders.

According to Barbers, the scheme surfaced on Monday during an investigation being conducted by the House Committee on Public Order on the importation of 530 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” by a Chinese suspect, Willy Ong, who possesses a legitimate but illegally acquired Philippine passport and driving license.

“Aside from perpetually bullying us on the issue of West Philippine Sea, the continuous dumping of counterfeit drugs and other products in the Philippines, these unscrupulous Chinese nationals are now faking documents to acquire legit government-issued documents,” said Barbers, who chairs the committee.

“These kinds of Chinese nationals are hatching [more] scams in our country,” he added.

READ: Barbers: Some Chinese in PH submit fake papers to obtain gov’t docs

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Barbers said that Ong’s accomplices were able to secure a Filipino birth certificate through the “late registration” process with certain local governments. Using the birth certificate, he was then able to secure a passport and other government-issued IDs.

Land buying spree

Based on House records, Ong was also able to register his real estate firm, Empire999, with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm was used to acquire huge tracts of land in Mexico, Pampanga province, where he and his Chinese partners built a gasoline station and four large warehouses.

It was in one of the warehouses that authorities discovered the P6.3-billion, 530-kilo shabu haul shipped through Subic Port via a controlled delivery involving National Bureau of Investigation agents. Ong and his other business partners are now being sought by authorities.

“Ong, including his other Chinese business cohorts, have made a huge mockery of the country’s Immigration, business, and other laws by acquiring government-issued documents, illegally establishing local businesses by posing as Filipinos,” Barbers said.

According to the lawmaker, he also received reports that some Chinese nationals with forged Filipino identification cards had likewise bought huge pieces of land in the provinces of Bulacan, Palawan, Zambales, Isabela, and other parts of the country, where they built warehouses and other “business fronts.”