BI roots out phony lawsuits meant to delay deportation
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it is working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to root out “frivolous cases” filed against foreigners facing deportation proceedings so that they can already be expelled from the country.
Speaking at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon news briefing, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said around half of 300 foreigners detained at the agency’s Camp Bagong Diwa facility in Taguig City were discovered to be facing other cases in courts or prosecutors’ offices which could delay their deportation.
“Maybe a half of them have cases filed against them [by another party]. And the thing is, they were just copying cases from one another. When one foreign national hears that a fellow detainee had a case filed against himself to defer his deportation, he will copy it and they will hire the same set of lawyers,” Sandoval said.
The BI official said the scheme is often perpetrated by detainees about to be deported who are facing more serious criminal charges in their home countries.
“It happens with fugitives. It happens with people with pending criminal cases in their home country,” she said.
Deportation proceedings in the Philippines are summary in nature and a foreigner arrested for violating immigration regulations are detained and then speedily deported unless he or she is not facing any other civil or criminal cases in the country.
“We can’t implement deportation if they have pending cases here in the Philippines, because, of course, they need first to be held liable for their offenses. For example, if they killed someone here, they have to be penalized and jailed, or suffer whatever the decision of the court is for their specific case,” Sandoval said.
“We discovered some foreign nationals who are abusing this by having cases filed against themselves to delay deportation. Even if the deportation case is already completed, but there is a fake or frivolous case against them that they themselves initiated, the deportation can’t be made effective,” she added.
Sandoval said the DOJ has been fast-tracking the resolution or dismissal of such frivolous cases. She said the BI also asked the DOJ for a list of foreigners facing cases in courts and prosecutors’ offices.
‘Illegally issued passports’
Meanwhile, Sandoval said the BI has also sought the help of the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Foreign Affairs in tracking down those responsible for illegally issued but authentic passports found in the possession of several inbound foreigners.
She said a “web of different individuals” or syndicates could be responsible for the scheme and would involve government employees or private persons acting as fixers.
Ongoing investigation has only revealed a “snippet” of the scheme, she said, because foreigners caught with the invalidly issued but authentic passports claimed that they just obtained the document from a fixer who is of the same nationality.