The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to file charges of violation immigration laws against 44 foreigners for their alleged involvement in kidnap-for-ransom activities. The suspects, 42 Chinese and two Malaysians, were arrested last week by joint operatives from the police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) and the BI’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) inside a Pasay City hotel that led to the rescue of a Singaporean woman. They victimize foreign high-roller casino players in the country. Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said over the weekend that he had instructed the BI’s legal division to initiate deportation proceedings against the aliens and to summon them to the bureau for preliminary investigation. Morente added that the suspects will be charged for being undesirable aliens and for violating the conditions of their stay as tourists. He explained that the BI’s move is separate from the criminal charges for kidnapping that were filed against the suspects by the Department of Justice (DoJ). “This is to ensure that these foreign criminals do not get the chance to go free even if they are allowed to post bail by the court. Technically, they will be under our custody after we have charged them for immigration law violation,” Morente said. He pointed out though that the suspects can only be deported after they have served their sentences if convicted or if they will be cleared of the kidnapping charges against them. Arvin Santos, BI legal chief, said he has directed his prosecutors to issue subpoenas to the foreigners so they can be brought to his office for investigation and filing of charges. Bobby Raquepo, BI-FSU acting chief, said the suspects belong to a syndicate believed responsible for kidnapping several foreign casino players in recent months. “Our initial investigation revealed that all of them entered the country as tourists, although four of the Chinese suspects have no record of travel to the Philippines,” Raquepo added.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL