Jul 6, 2020

City to probe liabilities of hotels, inns in suspected Chinese online fraud

The city government will conduct a probe on the liabilities of the hotels and pension houses that cater to offshore gaming operations and other suspected fraudulent cyber activities of Chinese nationals in Puerto Princesa.

This after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) rounded up around 324 overstaying and undocumented Chinese nationals in eight establishments here on Monday, September 16.

City administrator and legal counsel Atty. Arnel Pedrosa said their inquiry will center on the violation of the establishments of their business permits.

They also welcome as a positive development the raids that were conducted by the immigration bureau and the military.

“In so far as the business establishments na pinasok, may mga business permits naman ang mga ‘yon only to operate as hotels and restaurants, and lodging houses. Doon naman sa permit to operate [online] games inside the premises of the establishments wala kaming permit na ini-issue sa ganoon,” Pedrosa told Palawan News in an interview Wednesday.

“Mabuti nga ni-raid na nila ang mga ito dahil immigration duties naman nila ito,” he added.

Pedrosa said they did not issue any mayor’s or business permits to any establishment for the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

He said Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)-regulated games must also get permits from them, but in the case of the POGO where Chinese nationals had been working, no one was given any.

“Yong mga establishments na nag-cater sa kanila, kung merong violations doon sa kanilang business permits then we will enforce kung ano ‘yong mga conditions doon. Of course, kung hotel, hotel dapat ‘yong permit nila. Kung lodging house, lodging house. Hindi sila dapat nag-operate beyond what’s stated in their permits,” he said.

Pedrosa said he will inform Mayor Lucilo Bayron regarding the matter and will thoroughly investigate the involvement of the hotels and pension houses.

Based on a previous list provided in the City Council, some establishments involved Royal Oberoi Resort Hotel and Spa, Casa Fuertes Bed and Breakfast, La Charica Inn & Suites, Aquari Travelers Suites, Kookaburra, White View Hotel, Balai Hardin, Tropical Sun Inn, Ipil Suites, Westville Tourist Inn, Audissie, and Cecilia’s Comfort Inn.

On Monday, the BI led by intelligence personnel Jude Hinolan and Charlie Bautista with the “force protection security” provided by the Western Command (WESCOM) of the AFP, raided eight accommodation establishments and confiscated more than a hundred laptops, cellular phones, and other gadgets for cyber operations.

Many of the Chinese nationals failed to show legal documents that will prove their stay in the country is authorized.

A large number of them do not have proper travel documents, and if some have, they are already expired.

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