Cagayan ecozone denies coddling illegal aliens

TUGUEGARAO CITY—The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has asserted it does not coddle illegal aliens, amid reports that some arrested aliens have claimed that they had CEZA work visas.

Agents of the Bureau of Immigration reported recently that they had arrested close to 200 employees at the Zhonghwa Group Limited Inc. online casino hub at Star Cruise Center in Pasay City. Thirty-five of the arrested Chinese claimed they had CWVs while the rest were undocumented aliens. 

Jose Mari Ponce, CEZA administrator and chief executive officer, said CEZA does not condone hiring illegal aliens.  They would never tolerate illegal activities of any of its registered and accredited companies.

“We stand firm in our policy that any locator or accredited business process outsourcing and support services companies that will be found to be employing illegal expatriates are subjected to suspension or cancellation of its CEZA certificates and licenses and to the deportation of the concerned foreign national through the Bureau of Immigration,” Ponce said.

CEZA has been regulating online gaming since 2005 by virtue of the provision of Republic Act 7922 and the Interactive Gaming Rules and Regulations which it has promulgated, and which is now considered the first regulatory framework for gaming in Asia.

CEZA also has the mandate to grant visas to foreign investors, dependents and employees. The BI and the Department of Labor and Employment have been CEZA’s partners in the issuance of CWVs.

“We have a very stringent measure. CWV is issued to a foreign national who is qualified, able and willing foreign national if and only if the foreign national applicant is issued with an Alien Employment Permit by the DOLE and a clearance from the BI, which does a background check of the applicant for any derogatory records,” Ponce said.

Ha added that the agency has been closely and effectively monitoring the activities of its locators to ensure compliance in the applicable rules and regulations with the active involvement of Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and even the DOLE and BI, which can serve as checks and balances of the operations of its locators and complement CEZA’s regulatory and monitoring functions.

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