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BI: No coverup in case of 1,300 illegal workers

Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente yesterday declared that there will be no whitewash in the deportation proceedings against the 1,300 foreigners arrested in Clark, Pampanga last week for allegedly working in the country illegally.

Morente gave the assurance following reports that bribes were being offered for the release of the Chinese who were rounded up inside the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino Hotel by the BI fugitive search unit, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine National Police.

They were employed to operate online gambling that catered mostly to high rollers from mainland China.

“They will undergo deportation proceedings and their cases will be decided on the merits and the evidence to be presented,” Morente said.

BI agents are tracking the whereabouts of the 30 foreigners who were allegedly released under questionable circumstances on orders of Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II of the Department of Justice.

Morente also promised a speedy resolution of the aliens’ cases in order to obviate speculations of bribery. He said those found liable for violating immigration laws, particularly those who overstayed or violated the conditions of their visa, will be deported immediately.

Morente echoed the statement of Aguirre that any offer by employers of the aliens to bribe officials will be turned down. The BI chief issued the statement even as the BI legal division have filed immigration charges against the Chinese for “overstaying, working in violation of the limitations and conditions of their visa, and engaging in an unlicensed online gaming business.”

Meanwhile, 70 illegal Chinese workers rounded up in Clark reportedly escaped early yesterday morning.

Aguirre has ordered the BI to investigate the escape.

“Why should they escape kung walang nagmamaneobra,” Aguirre said yesterday. “Actually, karamihan sa sindikato nasa BI. Pinaiimbestigahan ko and I am sure heads will roll,” he assured.

The Justice Secretary bared that he has received information that bribe money ranging from P100,000 to P250,000 were offered for every Chinese who will be released.

The escapees fled despite being guarded by the elite Philippine National Police-Special Action Force.

Aguirre said that some of them have been captured while others decided to return to their holding area. Twenty-seven remain at large. (Jun Ramirez and Jeffrey G. Damicog)