Chinese influx near EDCA sites needs probing – lawmaker

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —  The sudden “aggressive influx” of Chinese nationals near sites of the Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) should be a cause for concern for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Bureau of Immigration (BI), according to a congressman.

“It would be best if the BI can check and investigate how many Chinese have managed to come to our country, and what are the nature of their travel documents, and to what areas in the country have they been deployed,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said yesterday.

Barbers said DFA officials assigned in China should observe “due diligence” in approving visa requests of Chinese citizens.

“They should verify the ‘real status’ of these citizens in their home country, count how many have come and returned to China and, most importantly, how many stayed and are still in the Philippines,” he said.

Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said that all concerned agencies are aware that a “Chinese mafia” is engaged in the procurement and processing of fake government documents.

These documents include fake birth certificates from the Philippine Statistics Authority, fake passports from the DFA, drivers’ license from the Land Transportation Office, fake gun licenses from the Philippine National Police Firearms and Explosives Office.

“The question is: what have these government agencies done to counter the tampering with of their offices’ documents? They are quiet on this issue. Are some of the officials of these agencies in cahoots or enablers of the Chinese mafia?” Barbers asked.

“Warehouses are sprouting like mushrooms in Central Luzon, particularly in Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Zambales as well as nearby towns in the region. Now they are slowly but surely creeping in Cagayan, near where two EDCA sites are located,” he said.

Five Philippine military installations were designated in 2016 as EDCA sites. These are Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Cagayan de Oro.

As this developed, the BI encouraged the public to report illegal aliens.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco made the appeal during a service caravan in Iloilo that the bureau conducted recently.

Tansingco said he received information about the presence of illegal aliens in the country during the Mindanao-leg of the BI’s “Bagong Immigration” caravan.

“We are serious in our drive against illegal aliens, hence we bring our people closer to communities to gather information about foreigners who are not complying with immigration laws,” Tansingco said.

He said the BI welcomes any information about illegal aliens and sexual predators hiding in remote provinces.

“As part of our #ShieldKids Campaign, we have intelligence personnel joining our caravan to receive information from community members regarding foreign sexual predators and sex tourists who might be plaguing their area,” he said.

The BI will conduct service caravans in Baguio and Batangas on May 8 and June 5, respectively –  Evelyn Macairan

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