Philippine immigration agents recently arrested a foreigner who had allegedly been hoodwinking foreign nationals by promising them high paying jobs in a non-existent country called the "Dominion of Melchizedek." Australian John Patrick Gillespie was arrested by Bureau of Immigration agents as he was about to board a flight to Australia.

According to Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriguez, charges will be filed against Gillespie for large-scale illegal recruitment and non-payment of debts. The immigration chief said the Australian has been tagged as the head of an international syndicate that issues passport and travel documents to Melchizedek. "He has been introducing himself as either the president, governor-general, foreign affairs minister or external affairs minister of this fictitious country to his victims," said Rodriguez.

The syndicate allegedly issues "Melchizedek" passports and grants "Melchizedek" citizenship to its victims who are made to pay exorbitant fees in return for their papers and promises of high paying jobs in the non-existent state. Investigation revealed that Gillespie's gang was engaged in the large-scale recruitment of workers from China and Bangladesh. He charged a processing fee of $3,500 from each to work in the "dominion."

Gillespie has been on the immigration watch list since November 1998 when immigration agents arrested three of his cohorts. Rodriguez added Gillespie will have to be prosecuted for his crimes in the Philippines before he is deported to Australia where he is wanted for fixing horse races.

Gillespie's group was busted on November 11, 1998, when immigration agents arrested in northern Olongapo City three "Melchizedek" officials and three Bangladeshis who worked as their office staff. Arrested were Chen Chin Yee, a Malaysian who held the title of "Melchizedek" public works minister; Stuart Ronald Mason-Parker, a British lawyer and alleged "justice minister"; and Dennis Oakley, an Australian and alleged "minister of the navy and coast guard."

All three were already deported to their countries of origin where they were charged and wanted for various crimes. Meanwhile, 48 Bangladesh nationals, who were earlier arrested by authorities in southern Sulu province have been sent to Manila on Monday afternoon for further questioning.

The foreigners were placed under investigation on Sunday night by the Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). Maj. Orlando De Leon, PAOCTF officer-in-charge in Zamboanga City said the majority of the foreigners had no travel documents but managed to get in from Davao City through the help of a Filipino trader named Benjid who promised to help them land a job in Japan.