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Chinese, Taiwanese tourists held in Ilocos

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines -– At least 52 Chinese and Taiwanese tourists were turned over to the Bureau of Immigration here early Tuesday after their presence in a resort in Vigan City in Ilocos Sur raised suspicions.

Inspector Glen Dulay, deputy police chief of Vigan, said police were on routine inspection of beach resorts in Vigan on Monday when they chanced upon a big group of foreigners at Mom’s Resort in that city.

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He said some tourists did not have their passports with them.

“We took them to the Laoag immigration office to verify whether their passports are authentic,” Dulay said.

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Lawyer Melver Tolentino, the tourists’ legal counsel, said he has asked for the immediate release of his clients after initial investigation showed that their papers were in order.

“Their passports are authentic. No expired passports or visa and no one was overstaying. There is no ground to hold them,” he said.

He said the police blotter entry showed that the foreigners were invited for verification and that there were computer gadgets seized from them.

He said there were no findings that gadgets were being used for any illegal activity.

“No illegal drugs or anything was seen in their possession,” he added.

Tolentino said at least 20 Chinese were initially released on Monday night and had already taken a Metro Manila-bound bus but they were held in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

He said the group that was initially released was supposed to report to the Chinese Embassy in Metro Manila.

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He said the police could be held administratively and criminally for detaining the Chinese without any charges filed against them.

The foreigners have been at the BI’s office since early Tuesday morning.

Paul Versoza, Laoag immigration chief, who was in Manila when the Vigan police arrived on Tuesday, said on radio that he was informed of the incident and that coordination with their Manila office was ongoing.

“I instructed our Laoag staff to entertain the foreign nationals. There is no ground to hold them so they should be released immediately,” he said.

Versoza said the matter was being handled with care considering the row between the Philippines and Taiwan over the shooting and killing of a Taiwanese fisherman in the Batanes Sea early this month.

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