Remulla bats for BI modernization, says gov’t ill-equipped to keep track of foreigners
MANILA, Philippines — A system that would allow the government to properly monitor foreigners in the country is needed after the killing of Chinese nationals that was caught in now-viral videos, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Wednesday.
During the Commission on Appointments meeting about his designation as Department of Justice (DOJ) head, Remulla was asked by Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel about the issue and what the department can do about it.
Remulla, in response, said the killings can be treated as an immigration matter and a police matter. In terms of immigration, the DOJ Secretary said that the country currently cannot properly keep track of aliens in the country — stressing the need to modernize the Bureau of Immigration, an attached agency of the DOJ.
“Your Honor, we can treat this, number one as an immigration matter and at the same time as a police matter your Honor. As an immigration matter, I think that the — because we are a country that has visa-free entry for most nationalities your Honor, and even those who enter, we do not have a good record of them especially the biometric record that we have to keep,” Remulla told Pimentel.
“So it’s really modernizing our system, first of immigration, that if we are able to get the biometric record, we can spare all of these and know and have a database of people who enter our country and their whereabouts,” he added.
Remulla also underscored the need for higher police visibility to ensure that similar incidents are either stopped or deterred.
800,000 illegal aliens
“As a police matter, we just have to be more vigilant in the presence of these people. Your Honor, there are now 800,000 illegal aliens in the country, more than we can really imagine. And it is a problem that we have to face head-on right now,” he admitted.
“These number of illegal aliens has to be sorted out properly, the killings now that we see on video going through the internet to our telephones is very disturbing your Honor, and we really need more police visibility and better surveillance of people just to prevent this from happening,” he added.
The viral video that Pimentel was referring to showed Chinese nationals arguing in the presence of several private security personnel which are Filipino. In the heat of the argument, one of the suspects pulled out a gun and started shooting and stabbing the victims.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Acting Regional Director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo confirmed that the shooting incident happened last July 22 in an apartment in Parañaque City’s Barangay Don Galo.
NCRPO said that appropriate complaints have been filed against the suspects, noting that the case has been considered cleared with the majority of suspects already identified.
“Based on the report submitted to Regional Headquarters, hot pursuit operation was conducted utilizing the CCTV recording of the building that led to the identification of the perpetrators of this crime,” NCRPO said.
The suspects were identified by NCRPO as King Aglubos Lee, a resident of Barangay Don Galo in Parañaque City, and Jeffrey Orlanes, 36, a resident of Barangay 5, Tanauan, Batangas.
The deceased victims meanwhile were identified as Zhang Xialong, 30, a Chinese national who lived in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and Ziyu Meng, 30, another Chinese national from Makati City.
“We assure the people that we will not allow the activities of lawless elements to prevail, especially foreigners doing crimes in our country. I directed our tracker teams to intensify their manhunt operations to put the at-large suspects behind bars and make sure that all those involved in this incident will suffer the consequences of their evil deeds,” Estomo said in a separate statement.
“Furthermore, recent extensive planning and pro-active measures pertaining to the same incident as this shall be put in place to avoid the future occurrence of the same,” he added.
Prior to the viral video, several groups have already raised concerns about the safety of Chinese nationals following several kidnapping incidents. According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report last Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Manila requested Philippine authorities to intensify efforts to protect its nationals after the spate of kidnappings.
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