Bureau of Immigration agents have arrested 74 Chinese nationals caught openly selling retail goods inside a popular shopping mall in Manila’s Chinatown district.
The foreigners were rounded up during a raid by members of the BI Intelligence Division at the 999 Shopping Mall in Binondo.
Also arrested was an Indian national caught at the scene collecting payments for his lending business.
They were later brought to the BI Headquarters in Intramuros, Manila where they are currently undergoing investigation and verification of their immigration status.
According to BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, he issued the mission order authorizing the Bureau’s operatives to conduct the raid due to persistent reports received by his office about undocumented Chinese nationals doing business inside the said establishment.
“The Philippine Immigration Act prohibits foreign nationals from working in the Philippines without a valid working visa or permit,” said Morente.
He stressed that foreign nationals were likewise prohibited from engaging in retail business, competing with small Filipino businessmen as it would deprive the latter of livelihood opportunities.
Immigration Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. said those arrested would first undergo preliminary investigation by BI prosecutors at the Bureau’s Legal Division to determine their status.
Manahan revealed that initial assessment showed most of the Chinese nationals were either already overstaying as they entered the country as mere tourists or were undocumented at the time of their arrest.
“Once ascertained, they could be charged with violating the conditions of their stay, as temporary visitors are not supposed to engage in gainful activity during their stay in the country,” he said.
According to Morente, “foreign nationals with legitimate intentions are very much welcome to enter and stay as long as they are properly documented and follow Philippine laws.”
He warned that foreign nationals caught abusing this privilege would be immediately deported and barred from returning to the country.