[This letter. Dated September 11, 2015, is addressed to Mr.Dante F.M. Ang 2nd, Executive Editor, The Manila Times, Attention: Mr. Erwin Tulfo, Columnist. We are publishing the entire letter unedited together with two attachment, CEZA sent 10 attachment.]
This refers to your editorial column referred to as “Dead Shot”, entitled “CEZA ‘coddles’ foreign gambling lords” and published today
Firstly, may we clarify that, contrary to your statement (par. 3). there has not been a chance that we heard from your office and declined to give the side of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) on the reported arrest of alleged “undocumented aliens” in Metro Manila. In fact, with CEZA’s intention to bring light to the pertaining issues raised by the columnist on this matter through a series of discussions published consecutively through this column and his radio station in another company, we have initiated sending our official statement through a formal letter sent directly to him (via Radyo Singko, TV 5) and received on 10 September 2015. A copy of this letter is also attached herewith for your perusal.
To supplement the letter and to also clarify on the columnist’s opinion that CEZA has a limitless authority to issue licenses to gambling operators (par. 11), may we note that while CEZA can grant a working visa to a foreign national employed by a CEZA registered or accredited enterprise, this can only be granted if an only if the foreign national is issued of an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and a no-derogatory-record clearance from the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
On the same note, to say that “CEZA ‘coddles’ foreign gambling lords” (title) and that “blacklisted undesirable aliens like gambling lord Clayton Edward Ayre found their way back to the country” through CEZA (par. 15) are nothing but libellous false statements maliciously meant to condemn CEZA. To set the records straight, there is no person with the name “Clayton Edward Ayre” registered through CEZA for any visa and we have never used our authority to influence something for personal gains.
We maintain that our standard procedure of securing a working visa involves partnership with the DOLE and BI, which has also motivated a system of checks and balances that has assured proper implementation of the standard procedure and that has also discouraged any illegal activity. Additionally, CEZA has been in active coordination with other government authorities, such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (ClDG} and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which also complement CEZA’s regulatory and monitoring functions over these procedures and activities. To accuse CEZA of any irregularities in the visa issuance process is to also condemn all the government authorities involved in this procedure.
We put a high regard on the freedom of the press but we also appeal for impartial treatment and objective handling of the issues at hand. We believe that all pertaining issues raised on this matter have been addressed substantially through this letter and the letter attached herewith. As media has the power to shape or influence public perception,we demand for a fair and objective presentation of facts and, at the very least, a logical interpretation and evaluation of issues in your Opinion Page. For the longest time, The Manila Times has earned the public’s respect in its integrity to publish fair and objective stories. We hope that you will not fail to uphold this dignity and continue to speak with integrity and in the name of public service.
Thank you very much.
Jose Mari B. Ponce
Administrator and Chief Executive Officer
Cagayan Economic Zone Authority
Office of the President
Republic of the
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Attachment to the CEZA letter above.
Registered Representative Zhonghwa Group Limited Inc.
Penthouse ALPAP I Bldg. 140 LP Leviste St.
Salcedo Village,Makati City
Dear Mr. Wong,
Based on reports gathered by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) regarding the inspection/raid conducted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Zhonghwa Group Limited Inc. (Zhonghwa) was found to be employing foreign nationals without the proper working visas. Note that such action is a violation of the provision of the Philippine Law and the Republic Act 7922, and may be grounds for suspension or cancellation of CEZA Enterprise status as stated in Section 18c of the CEZA Implementing Rules and Regulations. CEZA Enterprises are governed by the laws of the Republic of the Philippines, rules and regulations, and administrative orders of CEZA and are expected to observe and abide by these rules and regulations.
In view of the foregoing, you are hereby directed to submit to CEZA a report on the status of foreign nationals employed by Zhonghwa and the circumstances surrounding the inspection/raid conducted by the Bl last 20 July 2015.
For strict compliance.
Very truly yours,
JOSE MARl B.PONCE
Administrator and Chief Executive Offir
Cagayan Economic Zone Authority
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
* * *
LETTERHEAD OF ZHONGWAH GROUP LIMITED INC.
HON. JOSE MARl. B. PONCE Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Cagayan Economic Zone Authority
7th Floor, Westar Building 611 Shaw Boulevard, Pasig City
Dear Administrator Ponce:
We are writing in compliance with your letter dated 25 July 2015 directing our company to give a status report on foreign nationals affected by the raid conducted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on the premises of 6th floor in the Star Cruises Building, Pasay City last July 20, 2015.
As you are already aware, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) apprehended one hundred ninety one (191) Chinese nationals last July 20, 2015. Immediately after processing these Chinese nationals, fifteen (15) of them were found to be from AVIA, However, one (1) was found missing or unaccounted for The remaining one hundred seventy five (175) Chinese nationals were not working llegally. Their status is as follows;
35 were CWV-on- process and who were under orientation stage at the time of the raid;
16 were Tiegan CEZA working visa (CWV) holders and were at Zhonghwa office to install hardware/software, to interview applicants and to set up the office , which 15 of them were released on the night of July 20. 2015
1 Zhonghwa Ceza working visa (CWV) holder which released right after presenting his passport
10 company guests/prospective clients
And More or less 100 Applicants for job interview;
Zhonghwa office are still in renovation status, as a matter of fact, some computers are not yet installed even tables and chairs are not in proper place. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) raiding team apprehended the above Chinese nationals indiscriminately, without regard as to whether they were CEZA working visa holders, or whether they were mere applicants for job interview, or whether they were mere guests or outsiders. What the 81 raiding team did was apprehend and take in every Chinese national they saw in 61.
True enough, shortly after investigation by its legal department, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) released another fifteen (15) Chinese nationals, some of whom were employees of Tiegan and Avia while others were merely visiting Starcruises premises for various reasons. Please see the attached a copy of a memo dated 2 July 2015.
To date, a total of one hundred fifty four (154) Chinese nationals are still in detention by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), forty (40) of whom are in Bicutan, and one hundred fourteen (114} are in Clark, Pampanga. Out of these 154, two (2) are CWV holders from Tiegan,. The majority, however, are Chinese nationals who arrived with tourist visas but who had applied and were being considered or processed for possible employment with Zhonghwa. We would like to emphasize that these Chinese nationals have not been employed or actually put to work illegally.
We are in close coordination with the Bureau of Immigration (BI} on the status of the above Chinese nationals still in detention.
Please let us know how we can be of help with your good office in resolving this matter for the good of all concerned.
Please feel free to call if you have any questions or need additional information.
ANA MARIE SARMIENTO
[There are 11 attachments but The Times cannot publish them all.]