Immigration bureau goes after Indians in illegal trade

By Jerome Aning
Last updated 05:19pm (Mla time) 09/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration announced Thursday the arrest of 13 Indian nationals in the agency’s continuing crackdown against foreigners engaged in the so-called “5-6” money lending and retail trade business.


Immigration Marcelino Libanan told reporters that the Indians were rounded up last Friday at their safe houses in the towns of Tanay and Montalban and Antipolo City in Rizal by members of bureau’s law enforcement division.


Libanan said he authorized the operation after his office received complaints alleging that the Indians have been preying on residents of the province by lending them money at high interest rates and at the same time forcing them to buy overpriced goods on installment basis.


Those arrested were identified as Gurdial Singh, Baljit Kaur, Gurpreet Singh, Jaswant Singh Deol, Gurmej Lal, Jatinder Kumar, Jaswinder Kumar, Parminder Kaur, Avninder Singh, Surjit Singh, Jasrakan Singh, Kulwinder Singh and Swaranjit Singh Brar.


All 13 are currently detained at the BI jail in Bicutan, Taguig City, pending verification of their immigration status and the conduct of deportation proceedings.


Libanan said it is illegal for any person to engage in the lending business without authorization from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.


He added that the country’s retail trade law also prohibits foreigners from engaging in retail business unless they have a capital of no less than US$25.5 million.


“We should not allow any foreigner to take advantage of the poverty of our countrymen by forcing them to borrow money at exorbitant interest rates and buy overpriced retail items against their will,” the BI chief said.


BI technical assistant Victor Boco said initial investigation revealed that three of the arrested Indians submitted spurious immigration documents, thus they could be deported for being illegal aliens.


The documents submitted by the 10 other Indians are still being verified, according to Boco.


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