The four Chinese nationals arrested in Puerto Princesa City. (Photo from Bureau of Immigration)

Immigration bureau personnel and other law enforcement operatives apprehended four Chinese nationals allegedly involved in the distribution of fraudulently-obtained government identification cards and documents in Barangay San Pedro, Puerto Princesa City.

They were apprehended on March 19, but details were only released by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday, April 1.

BI Intelligence Division Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. disclosed that the four Chinese men identified as Wang Tao, Li Xiaoming, Guo Zhi Yang, and Lyu Zhiyang were arrested in collaboration with the Naval Forces West (Navforwest), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) 4B, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Manahan said that Lyu, who also goes by the alias Ken Garcia Lee, is believed to be the mastermind behind the operation and is notorious as a leader of a fraud syndicate in Palawan.

The syndicate reportedly supplies illegally acquired government documents to undesirable aliens and trafficking victims. During the operation, numerous Philippine-issued IDs, including drivers’ licenses, postal IDs, and birth certificates, were discovered and confiscated from the foreign nationals.

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

Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco commended the operatives, emphasizing that the suspects are players in providing Philippine IDs to foreigners pretending to be Filipinos.

Tansingco reiterated his call to local government units to report cases of foreign nationals engaging in illegal activities in their areas, particularly those involved in identity fraud.

“These foreign nationals use Philippine documents to avoid inspection, buy property, or even interfere in politics,” said Tansingco. “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.

In March, Congressman Robert “Ace” Barbers voiced concerns regarding the escalating instances of foreign nationals being apprehended with official Philippine identification documents.

Throughout the previous year, the BI recorded approximately 10 cases involving individuals who were arrested for impersonating Filipino citizens by utilizing legitimate Philippine documents.

The authorities have since moved the four Chinese men, identified as members of the involved syndicate, to the BI’s detention facility located in Bicutan, Taguig.

They are now facing charges related to forgery and being declared undesirable, in accordance with the provisions of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.