52 Taiwanese, Chinese tourists freed

LAOAG CITY, May 22 — Immigration officials here have released Taiwanese and Chinese tourists on Tuesday night, almost 12 hours after they were brought to the Bureau of Immigration here for passport and travel papers verification.

The tourists, 45 Taiwanese and seven Chinese, were taken from a resort in Vigan City after they were suspected to be involved in alleged cybercrime operations.

The Vigan police took the tourists for questioning after they found computer and electronic gadgets in their rented units at Mom’s Courtyard in barangay Bongtolan in Vigan City.

“They were released at 6:30 p.m. (Tuesday) from our office. It took some time to finish verifying their travel documents.

We got the order to release them from the central office,” said a Laoag immigration employee, who requested anonymity.

The employee said that the immigration office did not have jurisdiction over the tourists for their alleged violation of the Cybercrime Law.

“Our office is merely tasked to check whether their passports are authentic and their travel papers are valid,” the employee added.

The source said that the police could not press charges against the foreign nationals or hold them in detention because they were not armed with search or arrest warrants when the police took them from the Vigan resort.

Inspector Glen Dulay, Deputy Chief of PNP Vigan, earlier said that the tourists’ presence in a Vigan resort and their possession of electronic and computer gadgets raised suspicions.

The police said that the foreign nationals, who were on supposed vacation, have been renting several rooms at Mom’s Courtyard since March.

Police inspection reportedly showed that their rooms were converted to cubicles complete with computer gadgets.

The tourists were brought from Vigan City to the immigration office here early Tuesday in six separate police vehicles. (MCA/PIA1 Ilocos Norte)