By Wilnard Bacelonia

MEDIA MEET. Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval (left) discusses with the media various issues in a press conference held at Philippine Information Agency Building in Visayas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City on Friday (July 14, 2023), together with PIA Director-General Jose Torres Jr. Sandoval said the agency has started to process the documents of foreign nationals found in an illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator in Las Piñas City during a raid on June 27. (PNA photo by Ben Briones) 

MANILA – The Bureau if Immigration (BI) has received the copies of passports of more than 1,000 foreign nationals who were among the 2,714 workers of a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) firm raided by the Philippine National Police – Anti-Cyber Crime Group (PNP-ACG) in Las Piñas City on June 27.

During a press conference organized by the Philippine Information Agency in Quezon City on Friday, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said they are waiting for the PNP to send the second batch for processing.

Kakakuha lang namin sa PNP ‘yung mga copies nung mga passports nung 1,000 plus po na nakuhanan na po natin ng (We just got from PNP the passports copies of 1,000 plus and we also got their) biometrics yesterday (Thursday) lunchtime. There’s another batch of foreign nationals that we are still unable to get their biometrics. We are still waiting for the PNP for that batch before we can initiate any action on this,” Sandoval said.

The BI processing involves determining whether there are fugitives among the foreign nationals.

Sandoval said foreign governments usually inform the BI in advance if there are fugitives who might have entered or are about to enter the country.

“Upon entry po nila sa Pilipinas (here in the Philippines), we scan their passports, titingan po natin sa system, kung wala po silang record sa ating system. Pero kapag natunugan po ng kanilang bansa na andito pala sa Pilipinas ang kanilang pugante (we will check in our system if they have a record or not. But if their country gets a tip that their fugitive is here in the Philippines), they inform us immediately,” she said.

The BI Fugitive Search Unit conducts the investigation and implements arrest for deportation proceedings.

“Our system is also connected to the Interpol database. So, upon swiping ng kanilang passport, makikita na rin po natin kung sila po ay andun o wala sa Interpol database (of their passport, we will see if they have a record in the Interpol database,” she added.

According to PNP data, there were 1,239 foreigners and 1,534 Filipino workers “rescued” at the POGO raid, alleged victims of human trafficking. (PNA)