DAVAO CITY -- The city police are closely monitoring another foreign tourist and a hideout allegedly used in international financial fraud activities following the arrest of 78 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals Wednesday.
Those arrested are holders of tourist visa only.
Davao City Police Office (DCPO) chief Senior Superintendent Ronald dela Rosa said the closely monitored house was not included in the police operation on Wednesday that led to the arrest of the 78 foreigners because it was not occupied at the time the search warrant was issued.
Dela Rosa, however, refused to divulge the location of the house pending investigation.
"Basin unya nanghipos na to sila ron after nadakpan ila mga kauban. Wala man gud na apil sa warrant kay ulahi naman ni sila nangabot diri. By group man gud na ilang pag-anhi (Other syndicate members may have packed their things after the arrest of their companions. They came to the city at a later time. They come here by group)," dela Rosa said.
He said the suspects were closely monitored since February following a report from Taiwanese police, but they had to wait for a court order before conducting the raids.
Senior Inspector Leonardo Pamplona, deputy of the DCPO Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB), said these groups of foreign nationals are also operating in Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China and Manila.
Pamplona refused to divulge the names of the 78 arrested foreigners as their names are yet to be validated.
Dela Rosa said recovered also from the suspects' hideouts were illegal drugs like shabu, marijuana, and ecstasy.
He said they will dig deeper their investigation to find out if the syndicate is also involved in illegal drugs operation.
A joint entrapment operation of Taiwanese police and DCPO personnel around 3 p.m. Wednesday led to the arrest of the 78 Taiwanese and Chinese nationals in Ladislawa Village in Buhangin Proper, Japanese Tunnel on Diversion Road in Matina Crossing, and Villa Josefina in Talomo.
Dela Rosa said the Taiwanese police sought the Davao City Police Office's assistance two months ago.
He added that the suspects posed as call center agents and call their prospect victims to inform them that they have unsettled water and electric bills, among others.
Dela Rosa said the arrested foreign nationals are taken care of inside Camp Domingo Leonor, where they are being detained.
"Call it a special treatment as you may, but we are just showing our diplomacy of human treatment," dela Rosa said.
He added that the foreigners are in a separate holding area away from other Filipino detainees.
Dela Rosa said the suspects included 33 females and 45 males, aged 20-30.
Dela Rosa said as much as they want to treat the foreign suspects equally like other Filipino inmates, they cannot do so due to a small detention facility.
The 33 female foreigners are inside the DCPO conference room while the 45 men are being held inside a training room.
"Wala man 'mi choice, wala man tay kabalhinan ani nila, dili man pud ni nato sila pwedi i-halo sa mga detainees sa (We don't have any choice, we have no place where we can hold them and we cannot hold them along with other detainees at the) Sta. Ana police station," dela Rosa said.
He said the city doesn't have the facility to accommodate them all together.
He said acting Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte told him to give all the necessary needs of the foreigners.
Lawyer Lyndon Yap, legal counsel of the arrested foreigners, said the suspects are initially charged with violation of the Republic Act 8484, otherwise known as An Act Regulating The Issuance And Use of Access Devices.
"But access device is not illegal. However, if such act was used in a manner that violates the rights of the others, then that is illegal. In that case, we will just see if it is warranted a charge will be filed against them," Yap said.
Yap said, however, that as of now, they could not yet go into details as they are still preparing the affidavits of the suspects.
When asked if the case will be heard in the city, Yap said he has still no idea, but he can assure that the suspects will be respected of their right to reply to the charges filed against them.
Aside from criminal liability, the 78 foreigners may also face charges for not obtaining a working visa from the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
The BI agent, who refused to be named due to office protocol, said the arrested foreigners have violated the Immigration Law and are subject for deportation as stated under Section 37 of the said law.
The agent added that if proven that the suspects operated as call center agents without a working visa from the Department of Labor and Employment and BI, they will have to face charges.
The BI is also conducting its own investigation based on the evidences and complaints from the DCPO and Taiwanese police.
He said tourist visa holders are not supposed to work and can only extend their stay for more than six months in the city for valid reasons only.
The BI agent added that the respondents will not yet be subjected for immediate deportation.
The Taiwanese government will be responsible for requesting from their office to deport the aliens or not based on the respondents' criminal liability.
The BI could also request for the deportation if proven that they have also violated immigration laws, he added. (ANC/ICT/JOP/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)