Chinese nationals file counter-affidavit, claim they are victims of illegal recruitment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Thirty-nine Chinese nationals arrested in Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Clark, Pampanga claim they were victims of illegal recruitment, as the preliminary investigation resumed Friday.

The Chinese workers were arrested by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) last year after they were caught working in an illegal online gambling operation.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Cybercrime Division filed an illegal gambling case against the Chinese respondents, in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Thirty-nine out of the 43 Chinese respondents were present at the investigation, with the BI noting the 4 absentees are minors.

The Chinese respondents presented individual counter-affidavits attached to their joint counter-affidavit.

In the counter-affidavit, the respondents claim they were promised a different job in the Philippines by their agencies.

However, they claimed that upon their arrival, they were brought directly to Fontana.

They claim to have no knowledge of whether their employer, Next Games Outsource, Inc., had the necessary permits to operate online gambling.

Some of the Chinese respondents also said not all occupants of Villa 736 of Fontana were working when the arrest was made.

They said some of them were sleeping, chatting outside, or just hanging around the Villa. Some said they were even forced to sit in front of computers so photos of them may be taken for evidence.

The Chinese respondents' lawyer, Jonathan Sarte, questions the DOJ Cybercrime Division for filing the criminal complaint, as there is already an ongoing deportation proceeding against the respondents at the immigration bureau.

The case is now submitted for resolution.