BI raises concern over foreigners misrepresenting as Filipino

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 28)— The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday raised concern over reports of foreign nationals caught in the country who were misrepresenting themselves as Filipino citizens.

The BI recalled recently intercepting a Hong Kong-Canadian national suspected to have misrepresented himself as a Filipino.

The BI's Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) said it recorded two more cases of misrepresentation this month at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The bureau said it apprehended on Jan. 17 a 35-year-old woman identified as Nong Thi Luyen at the NAIA Terminal 3 for attempting to depart to Vietnam via a Cebu Pacific Airways flight to Saigon.

Nong, who initially presented a Philippine passport bearing a Philippine name, raised suspicion when she was unable to answer basic details about her identity.

"She later admitted during questioning that she is a Vietnamese citizen and that she last arrived in the country almost two decades ago," BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said in a statement.

"Apparently, she wanted to evade overstaying penalties so she resorted to misrepresenting herself," he added.

Investigation later revealed that the Philippine passport presented by Nong belonged to someone else.

Another foreign national identified as Hailan Zhang was also caught by officials at the NAIA Terminal 1 on Jan. 23 after attempting to leave the country via a Thai airways flight to Hanoi.

Zhang, 35, also presented a Philippine passport, and carried identification cards and permits, claiming he was a businessman in the country.

However, officers also noted numerous inconsistencies in his statements. Zhang later admitted his real identity.

The BI's forensic documents laboratory also showed that while his Philippine passport is genuine, it bore a fake BI departure stamp.

Both Nong and Hailan were charged for violation of the Philippine Immigration Act, and will remain at the bureau's warden facility in Taguig City pending their deportation.