• Human trafficking thrives


    Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison welcomed the help of other law enforcement agencies in the campaign to combat human trafficking.

    He said he does not mind teams from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) joining the Bureau of Immigration in pursuing cases involving foreigners.

    Mison made the assertion Friday as the BI marked its 75th anniversary.

    Earlier, a joint NBI-CIDG team swooped down on a suspected illegal online gambling joint in Metro Manila’s central business district, rounding up at least 31 Chinese who reportedly have questionable immigration status.

    The authorities said the illegal aliens are working for the Xing Qi Ba Technology Management, Inc. located at the 9th floor of the RCBC building in Makati.

    Xing Qi Ba reportedly is under the Avia group, owned by one King Won who owns an empire of online casino business in the country.

    In July, 200 undocumented workers from China and Taiwan were arrested by immigration agents at the Star Cruises building in Pasay City.

    They were reportedly employed by Zhong Hwa Enterprises, another online casino under the Avia group of Won.

    The question now is why the heck does the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) allow such kind of operation?

    CEZA, under the Office of the President, issues the permits of these online casinos that have mushroomed all over the country.

    President Aquino should take a closer look at why CEZA continues to turn a blind eye on the issue of undocumented aliens working in online casinos.

    “Magkano kaya ang dahilan?” CEZA Chief Chelly Ponce?

    Cleansing continues at BI
    The recent arrests makes it apparent that illegal online casino operations in the country remain widespread and worse, had become a lucrative market for human smugglers.

    These online gambling joints employ primarily Chinese-speaking “call center agents” or customer service agents, and cater to international clientele in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    The trafficking and employing Chinese, Malaysians and Indonesians without work visas or work permits have been going on and have gotten worse in recent years.

    Last month, BI operatives rounded up some 200 online casino call center agents of Chong Hua Enterprises Co. at Star Cruise Center on Newport, Pasay City.

    The apprehensions came in the wake of the “overblown” Wang Bo bribery controversy. Wang, a most wanted gambling lord, has been shipped back to China.

    In the past years, a fugitive online gambling lord — Clayton Edward Ayre from the US — evaded arrest.

    * * *

    The Office of the Ombudsman’s recent resolution to press charges against three former officials of the Bureau of Immigration who facilitated the “escape” of a Vietnamese-American fugitive only shows the rampant corruption at the agency.

    Facing charges for anti-graft and corrupt practices are Roy Almoro, Jose Cabochan and Teodoro Delarmente, and six others who sprung Vo Van Duc, a convicted bomb-maker in the US.

    In the past decades, BI has been beset by brazen abuse of authority among its rank and file involved in extortion and bribe-taking.

    These crooks at the bureau would either blackmail apprehended foreigners with deportation or offer to fix their immigration status to avoid deportation.

    As I have said, even blacklisted undesirable aliens have found their way back into the country with the help of BI insiders.

    This is one of the major problem areas addressed head-on by Mison, unlike previous BI chiefs.

    These scalawags undermine the efforts of the current BI leadership in enforcing the Immigration Law.

    I hope Mison’s reform program at BI will not go to waste.

    * * *

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