Tuesday June 02,2015 : MEDDLING IN MANILA
Have corrupt officials assisted a Chinese fugitive from justice?
Rumours of high level corruption in the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) surfaced again over the weekend when the Manila Times reported that a wanted illegal gambling fugitive from Chinese justice was being assisted by two senior officials in the Bureau.
The current head of the Bureau, Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison, has been trying to clean up the organisation after widespread reports of rampant corruption, but with senior personnel trying to go over his head, it is clearly a difficult task.
The current furore revolves around a Chinese national named Wang Bo, who is apparently wanted by the Chinese on serious illegal online gambling charges. Chinese officials have on at least two occasions confirmed this, advising that Wang Bo's Chinese passport has been cancelled and he is the subject of police investigations.
China Consul and Police Attaché Fu Yunfei, in a letter dated February 15 this year, informed BI that Wang is wanted for heading an “illegal online-gambling operation” with Manila connections, and that his Chinese passport has been cancelled.
Wang was detained at a BI facility and after some delays, the Commissioner of the BI, aided by associate commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Repizo, issued a summary deportation order early in March.
Wang fought the deportation order, claiming he is not a criminal and pointing to a two-year work visa issued by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority through an employer called ELC Technology Consulting Co. Inc. That visa has since expired, and given Wang's background there are questions around how it was granted in the first place.
Wang was partially successful in stalling the proceedings; on March 21 the deportation order was suspended whilst the issue was considered further….and surprisingly two officials at the most senior levels of BI, associate commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Repizo, allegedly asked Mison to cancel the order due to a lack of documentary evidence.
These were the same two officials who were involved in approving the deportation order in the first place.
Mison declined, and the Chinese authorities again flagged Wang's wanted status, providing documentary evidence and a copy of the warrant of arrest issued for him.
Mison reinstated the suspended deportation order and stopped Wang's release from custody, but astonishingly his two lieutenants then went over his head in an appeal on Wang's behalf to the Secretary of Justice, Leila de Lima.
Unfortunately for them – and Wang – de Lima supported Mison's decision, so it looks as if Wang will finally face the music in his homeland.
But the case has again raised suspicions of corruption; as the Times commented:
"Why are the No. 2 and No. 3 BI officials playing “godfathers” to this gambling lord, Wang? They shamelessly insist on letting loose Wang Bo and contradict Mison’s order to deport him. Perhaps, I asked the wrong question in the first place. Instead of asking what’s wrong with Mangotara and Repizo, I should have asked, “How much?”
"How much does it take to change the high-ranking officials’ mind about deporting a notorious fugitive?"