MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration said Sunday it was coordinating with police to file deportation charges against 44 Chinese nationals arrested in POGOs or Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators that defied the Luzon lockdown.
The bureau said it will look into similar establishments that may be violating enhanced community quarantine guidelines said BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval.
"We will not take this lightly. Foreign nationals that are in the country must abide by our laws lest face criminal and immigration sanctions," she said in a statement.
The Chinese nationals, however, may only be deported after serving their criminal sentence, the Department of Justice said after Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez called for the Chinese nationals' expulsion from the country.
Some P1.3 million cash, 5 pistols, 36 laptops and 17 desktop computers were seized from the unregistered POGO hub, police said.
The suspects are facing multiple charges, including illegal possession of firearms and breaching quarantine protocols under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.
POGOs are among businesses covered by shutdown orders under the Luzon-wide lockdown set to end April 30. The measure was extended in several areas including Metro Manila until May 15.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation chief Andrea Domingo, in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, recently recommended the resumption of POGO operations despite the region-wide work stoppage for "non-essential" industries. --With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News