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BI nabs Chinese posing as Vanuatu citizen

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
BI nabs Chinese posing as Vanuatu citizen
In a statement yesterday, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that Alex Cooper, 43, a holder of a Vanuatu passport, was about to board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok when he was stopped by immigration officers.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese man claiming to be a citizen of Vanuatu was apprehended by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 as he was about to depart for Thailand on June 11.

In a statement yesterday, BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said that Alex Cooper, 43, a holder of a Vanuatu passport, was about to board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok when he was stopped by immigration officers.

Based on the BI-Border Control and Intelligence Unit’s investigation, Cooper claimed to be from Vanuatu but he had difficulty speaking in English. However, he was fluent in speaking the Chinese language.

He also uses a Chinese brand of mobile phone, the BI reported.

The BI also said it found out that Cooper does not know anything about the South Pacific nation and its culture.

The BI received a tip about Cooper’s bogus Vanuatu citizenship as he had allegedly been using his Vanuatu passport to enter and exit the country when travelling to other foreign destinations such as Japan and Thailand.

The Vanuatu passport was issued to Cooper on Feb. 15, 2021 and he used it when he first arrived in Manila on June 30, 2022.

The BI Chief said Cooper is being investigated for having a questionable identity, for which he could be deported for being an undesirable alien.

He is being held at the BI’s detention facility in Taguig City.

“If we are able to establish that he is actually a Chinese citizen and that his Vanuatu passport was merely procured from fixers to conceal his real identity, he will be summarily deported and banned from re-entering the country,” Tansingco said.

He added that aliens who misrepresent themselves by using spurious documents to enter and stay in the Philippines are liable for blatantly violating the country’s immigration laws and should be sent back to their country of origin.

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