72 Taiwanese charged with fraud, extortion

Davao, south Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Seventy-two Taiwanese arrested here last month on allegations of fraudulent activities against fellow Taiwanese and mainland Chinese have been charged with violating the Access Devices Regulation Act and other crimes, an Immigration official said Friday.

Davao City police chief Senior Superintendent Ronald de la Rosa had said earlier that the foreigners, who were arrested together with six Chinese nationals, could not be charged under Philippine law because they did not victimize Filipinos and would have to be deported soon.

But Antonette Mangrobang, spokesperson of the Bureau of Immigration office in Southern Mindanao, said the 72 Taiwanese had to be charged and tried locally under the RA 8484, which penalizes the use of electronic gadgets and other instruments in the commission of crimes.

As for the six Chinese, they have already been deported following their arrest for lack of documents.

The group's alleged modus operandi was to call Taiwanese nationals and Chinese back home with concocted stories such as the non-payment of debts. They would threaten the victims with police action unless they paid the alleged debt to collectors who would turn up at their homes.

The group's operation, using two houses in an upscale subdivision here, caught the attention of Taipei authorities who then requested the local police to arrest the extortionists.

"The BI will wait for the decision of the court before they can be deported," Mangrobang told the Inquirer.

Mangrobang said the Taiwanese nationals also face other charges because they violated immigration laws.

The Taiwan authorities have cancelled their passports, "making them undocumented aliens," she said.

Mangrobang said the 72 Taiwanese remained under police custody because the immigration bureau has no facility to hold such a large number of suspected immigration law violators.

She said Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David had requested the Davao City police to keep the Taiwanese in its custody while their case is being heard, she said.


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