By Ferdinand Patinio

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Immigration authorities arrested a blacklisted Chinese national at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Sunday as he was about to depart for China.

In a press release issued Monday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Zhou Xingxing, 31, who attempted to depart for Guangzhou, China, was the subject of a January 2023 order to leave from the BI for overstaying and working for an online gaming company with an expired PAGCOR license.

The foreigner was turned over to the BI’s border control and intelligence unit for processing and was handed over to the legal division to undergo booking procedures.

He will be transferred to the BI warden’s facility at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, while undergoing deportation proceedings.

Meanwhile, the bureau also reported that four Filipinos who fell victim to illegal recruitment have returned to the country following a request for repatriation from Myanmar.

The victims, whose names have been withheld for their protection, arrived in Manila from Yangon, Myanmar via a Thai Airways flight on November 21.

According to the victims, they were unable to obtain proper working visas and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) registration during their stay in Laukkai, Myanmar.

They left the country as tourists in Myanmar and were promised to be employed there.

“Upon arriving, they were coerced into engaging in online scamming activities for an undisclosed Chinese company. These individuals were subjected to physical abuse and poor working conditions,” the BI said in a statement.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco expressed alarm over this kind of incident as he stressed the importance of heightened vigilance in the present situation in Myanmar.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has now placed Myanmar under Crisis Alert Level 2 due to illegal recruitment cases, or the Restricted Phase, Tansingco said.

This means that only documented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are allowed to travel to Myanmar, with stringent protocols and safeguards in place.

All four passengers were assisted by officials from the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, DFA, and OWWA. (PNA)