281 Chinese in POGO raid face deportation

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — At least 281 Chinese face deportation following their arrest during a raid on an illegal Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO) in Pasig City on Wednesday, an official said yesterday.

They are now being held at the Bureau of Immigration (BI)’s detention facility in Bicutan, Taguig City.

BI Fugitive Search Unit chief Bobby Raquepo said the Chinese were arrested after they received reports of illegal online gaming operations that reportedly catered to clients in China.

He said the Chinese embassy in Manila sought the BI’s assistance for the arrest of the Chinese citizens, who allegedly took away $100 million annually in their illegal operations.

In a statement, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said he initially issued a mission order to arrest four Chinese fugitives wanted for their alleged involvement in economic crimes in China.

“We received an official communication from Police Attaché Chen Chao of the Chinese embassy in the Philippines indicating that these Chinese fugitives engaged in an investment scam that victimized more than a thousand individuals, and has an estimated cost of damages amounting to more than 100 million renminbi,” he said.

Raquepo said when they raided the office, they caught at least 273 other Chinese conducting illegal online operations.

The Chinese were undocumented, Raquepo said, adding that upon verification with Chinese authorities, they found the Chinese were also fugitives wanted for large-scale fraud and investment scams in their country.

“Upon verification with the Chinese government, we found out that the passports of these fugitives have already been canceled, making them undocumented aliens,” Raquepo said.

Morente assured the public that the BI is serious in its drive against foreign fugitives, whose “presence in the country is a risk to public security.”

The case has been forwarded to the BI’s Legal Division for the filing of appropriate charges.  – With Evelyn Macairan, Rudy Santos

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