Probe on unauthorized release of 22 suspected illegal Chinese workers ordered

Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Siegfred Mison ordered the probe on the unauthorized release from custody of at least 22 Chinese nationals who were apprehended in an operation in Pasay City on July 21, 2015. On the said date, 191 foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, were caught in the act of working as call center agents/online gambling operators in the 6th and 7th floors of an office building.

However, only 169 of these alleged illegal workers were brought to the BI main office for inquest proceedings with at least 22 went missing or released.

Twenty-one of those released without authority were claimed to possess Cagayan Economic Zone Authority special visas (CEZA visas); one appeared to be unaccounted, or missing, the Immigration said in a statement.

“CEZA visas are company- and station-specific,” explained Immigration spokesperson Elaine Tan. “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.”

Upon investigation, 14 of 169 alleged illegal workers brought to Immigration office were released from custody for presenting valid work visas.

A total of 155 foreign nationals were charged for working without permit, and subsequently transferred to BI’s holding facility in Bicutan, and at the Philippine Immigration Academy in Clark, Pampanga, for temporary custody pending deportation proceedings.