Malacañang on Thursday blamed the local government of Zambales for allowing illegal dredging operations by undocumented Chinese nationals in Masinloc town.

“The local government of Zambales should take responsibility for that,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing. “It’s an illegal act and therefore they should be prosecuted,” he said of the Chinese, adding that the province should have done something about it.

Immigration agents had arrested seven male Chinese nationals in Masinloc, Zambales on Sept. 11 “for working without proper visas and engaging in illegal sand dredging activities,” the Bureau of Immigration said in a statement yesterday.

​The Chinese violated immigration laws, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Executive Order 292, bureau Commissioner Jaime H. Morente said in the statement.

​“They are seriously threatening national security and interest by stealing our minerals and resources,” he added.

The Chinese were found to have been overstaying and working without proper visas or permits, the bureau said. — Arjay L. Balinbin