• CEZA corrects Erwin Tulfo’s Sept. 11 column

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    [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.

    (SIGNED)
    Jose Mari B. Ponce
    Administrator and Chief Executive Officer
    Cagayan Economic Zone Authority
    Office of the President
    Republic of the
    Philippines

    * * *
    Attachment to the CEZA letter above.

    21July  2015
    Mr.WILLIAM WONG
    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

    * * *
    (another attachment)

    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.

    SIGNED
    WILLIAM WONG
    Registered
    Representative

    SIGNED
    ANA MARIE SARMIENTO
    Registered
    Representative

    [There are 11 attachments but The Times cannot publish them all.]

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