PHILIPPINES IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE (Update)
One senior bureaucrat reportedly helping investigators.
The Philippines Bureau of Immigration scandal around Chinese online gambling fugitive Bo Wang had an interesting sequel this week when no-nonsense Secretary for Justice Leila De Lima questioned two top officials over their efforts on Wang's behalf despite documentary proof of his wanted status, provided by a senior Chinese official.
Clearly she was less than impressed with the answers provided by Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Respizo surrounding their opposition to Wang's continued detention and ultimate deportation, because the enquiry into their explanations on the issue continued.
Towards the end of the week local media, quoting reliable insider sources, revealed that Mangotara was assisting the enquiry, claiming that Respizo negotiated a possibly corrupt deal with Wang’s representatives to arrange the fugitive's release on payment of P100 million to the immigration bureau and P440 million for certain unnamed legislators.
Pressed for confirmation, the head of BI, Commissioner Siegfried Mison, would say only that a top official in BI was now "ready to reveal the truth".
The new revelations make it virtually impossible for De Lima not to conduct a full investigation into the affair to determine if corruption was a factor, and if so which officials and lawmakers were involved.
Such an investigation appears inevitable in any case; House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has since filed House Resolution 2151, seeking an investigation into claims that Wang or his representatives had paid certain funds to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives which were subsequently used by the Liberal Party to influence the outcome of Committee hearings.
Belmonte said that it was necessary to thoroughly investigate the Bureau of Immigration for corruption in the Wang case, because its three top officials were making allegations against each other, suggesting that something questionable may have been going on.