Lately it has appeared that the Philippines has been moving away from its long-term alliance with the United States and warming up to better ties with China.
However, a bust of an online gaming operation could potentially be a small thorn in the side of improved diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China.
On Friday, over 1,300 Chinese nationals were arrested by the Philippines National Bureau of Immigration and Department of Justice officers for illegally working in “an unlicensed online gaming business,” said Bureau of Immigration spokesman Tonette Mangrobang. The workers, who reportedly were in the Philippines under tourist visas and thus not legally empowered to work in the Philippines, were detained after a raid on the Fontana Leisure Park & Casino operated by Jimei chairman and gaming tycoon Jack Lam in the Clark Freeport Zone.
“The 1,318 Chinese will be charged with overstaying, working violation of the limitations and conditions of their visa and engaging in an unlicensed online gaming business,” said Mangrobang to the Inquirer.
The raid was the largest single arrest of suspected illegal aliens in the Philippines and it appears the country's law enforcement officials plan to play things by the book.
The country's top law enforcement official, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was behind the arrests of the Chinese nationals and shared that the Department of Justice was approached with bribes ranging up to 200,000 PHP ($4,021) per person or over $500,000 total for their release.
Aguirre II emphatically stated that the enforcement of laws would not succumb to bribes.
"We will not be deterred," Aguirre II said. "We will be uncompromising in our fight against crime and corruption...We are sending a message to all who break any of our laws. Break it and we will go after you."
According to the Bureau of Investigations, 99 of the illegal workers overstayed their tourist visas, which will likely lead to a summary deportation of this group. The remaining workers will be subjected to deportation proceedings, during which they will have the opportunity to defend themselves.
*Lead image courtesy of Wikipedia.org.
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