Over 500 foreigners, mostly Chinese, arrested last year

THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested more than 500 foreigners alleged to have violated the country’s immigration laws in 2020, lower than the more than 2,000 arrested in 2019. In a statement, the bureau said its intelligence operatives arrested 510 foreigners last year, including 332 Chinese nationals who were nabbed in Tarlac last December for illegally working in the country and involvement in cybercrimes. Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said the drop in number is attributed to the travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. “Because of the pandemic and community quarantines imposed, there was a decrease in the movement of aliens,” Mr. Morente said in a statement. “A lot of foreign nationals also joined repatriation flights back to their home countries,” he added. Immigration intelligence chief Fortunato S. Manahan, Jr. reported that the other foreigners caught included 44 overstaying and improperly documented Indians, and 14 Koreans and two Vietnamese who were engaged in unauthorized business activities. Immigration agents also assisted in catching foreign terrorists in Mindanao, including the Indonesian wife of a suicide bomber in Jolo, Sulu. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Foreign business chambers, economic managers to attend House hearing on constitutional amendments

THE ADMINISTRATION’S economic managers and representatives from foreign chambers are expected to attend the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments’ Tuesday hearing on the proposed lifting of foreign equity provisions in the 1987 Constitution. Based on a committee agenda dated January 24 obtained by BusinessWorld on Sunday, among those invited to attend the discussions are Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, and members of the Joint Foreign Chambers. Meanwhile, AKO-BICOL Party-list Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr., who chairs the committee, asserted that introducing constitutional changes at this time is the “right thing to do” after 10 local business groups on Friday called it a “divisive” move. “We support initiatives to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to enhance the country’s competitive position globally. However, we are strongly opposed to any initiative at this time to amend the Constitution,” the groups said in a joint statement. The House aims to bring the measure up for debate at the plenary next month. — Gillian M. Cortez