By Ferdinand Patinio

(Photo courtesy of BI)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) Monday reported the arrest of four Chinese nationals, including the leader of a group engaged in the production of fraudulent government-issued identification cards and documents in the province of Palawan.

In a statement, BI intelligence division chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said suspects Wang Tao, Li Xiaoming, Guo Zhi Yang, and the group’s leader Lyu Zhiyang were arrested in a March 19 operation in Barangay San Pedro in Puerto Princesa City.

The foreigners yielded several Philippines-issued IDs, including their drivers’ licenses, postal IDs, and birth certificates.

“The arresting team of the operation have been working on the case for several months and have kept close coordination with intelligence forces and law enforcement agents to ensure the smooth arrest of the subjects,” Manahan added.

The operation was conducted in coordination with the Naval Forces West, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency 4B, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Lyu, alias Ken Garcia Lee, was allegedly the mastermind of the operation and earned notoriety in the local community after being tagged as a “fraud mafia leader” in the province.

Lyu allegedly heads a local syndicate providing illegally obtained government-issued documents to undesirable aliens and trafficking victims.

They were transferred to the BI’s facility in Bicutan, Taguig and will be charged with violation of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.

Commissioner Norman Tansingco, meanwhile, urged local government units to report to them cases of foreigners carrying out illegal activities in their areas.

“These foreign nationals use Philippine documents to avoid inspection, buy property, or even interfere in politics. The arrest of Lyu and his gang will definitely hurt the operations of these entities, and hopefully put a stop to the proliferation of fraudulently-acquired documents,” he said.

Last month, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers expressed concern over the growing number of arrests and interceptions of foreigners holding Philippine documents.

In 2023, the Bureau reported at least 10 cases of arrested fake Filipinos presenting authentic Philippine documents. (PNA)