Gov’t agents urged to probe travel firms in Chinese scheme

A SENATOR on Monday called on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to identify the travel agencies involved in a money-making scheme for the “seamless entry” of Chinese nationals in the country.

In a statement, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said the new scheme involves Chinese nationals who supposedly pay P550,000 each for their illegal entry.

She said some Immigration officials had long been in cahoots with travel agencies in letting some Chinese nationals in for a fee.

Ms. Baraquel cited an NBI entrapment operation where a liaison officer was caught receiving P900,000 to process the papers of three Chinese nationals — said to be clients of a travel agency — inside the office of an Immigration bureau prosecutor.

“I’ve called for a Bureau of Immigration overhaul before and this needs to happen now as it seems the new scam features the same cast of characters,” she said. “This is a direct threat to our national security.”

The Senate last year investigated a money-making scheme involving Immigration officials who were accused of charging P10,000 for each illegal Chinese national. Government agents in November filed graft complaints against more than 80 Immigration officials.

Ms. Baraquel reiterated her call to abolish a program that gives visas to Chinese nationals upon arrival at the airport. It was suspended in January last year due to coronavirus concerns.

She said Chinese visitors should enter the country through channels monitored by the Department of Foreign Affairs. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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