Councilor seeks probe on illegal immigrants in Iloilo City

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Iloilo City Council passed a resolution on Wednesday, June 3, calling for an investigation into the proliferation of illegal immigrants and their potential involvement in unlawful activities in the city.

Councilor Rommel Duron, chairperson of the Committee on Games, Amusement, and Professional Sports, highlighted the influx of unmonitored immigrants and the risk of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) establishing operations in the city.

“We want to investigate not only illegal immigrants but also illegal criminal activities happening in our city. We want to prevent it. The inquiry is a preventive measure,” he said in an interview.

Duron cited reports of foreign nationals occupying or leasing properties in some subdivisions, raising concerns about possible covert illegal operations.

“We are alarmed, especially with the ongoing Senate investigation, because even a public official was elected. Maybe there are also those operating here in the city,” he added, referring to Bamban Mayor Alice Guo, whose identity and nationality are being questioned in the Senate.

He also recalled the apprehension of 17 Chinese nationals arrested in connection with a cybersex operation in Barangay Lawa-an in the Jaro district in November 2023.

To address these concerns, the City Council plans to invite the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO), and Homeowners Associations to a committee hearing.

Duron emphasized that the issue is more about the enforcement of laws. As a legislative body, they need to check the accountability of BI and DOLE, particularly regarding foreigners working in the city on tourist visas.

“How come the DOLE tolerates these foreigners working here? Do they issue certifications even though they are just tourists?” he questioned.

“What are they (ICPO) doing specifically? Maybe we need to create a composite team to prevent the crimes brought by these individuals,” he added.

The approved resolution has been referred to the Committee on the Whole for further action.

In a statement on Tuesday, July 2, City Mayor Jerry Treñas called on the BI to “ensure that no foreign national will be allowed beyond what is permitted.”

“We need to make sure that Iloilo is safe. All records of alien residents are with the Bureau of Immigration, and we call on them to strictly enforce the law,” he added.

Treñas previously revealed that several offers to establish POGOs in the city had been denied due to concerns about crime and corruption associated with their operations.

The Police Regional Office 6 also reported that they have not monitored any POGOs in Western Visayas.

“We are monitoring the POGO operations but as per the report of our lower units, they have not monitored any,” PRO-6 director Brigadier Gen. Jack Wanky said on Tuesday.

“Our police officers are ready to render duty, and we are asking the help of the public to report immediately if they observe illegal activities,” he added.


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