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John Hay exec sues BI for airport detention

/ 07:52 PM May 28, 2013

BAGUIO CITY—The businessman who heads the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) has sued immigration officials for stopping him from leaving for the United States on May 11.

The incident involving Robert John Sobrepeña surprised lawyers of CJHDevco, which has a running feud with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

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Sobrepeña boarded a 10:30 p.m. flight but was asked to get off the plane for no reason. He was briefly detained at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport until he was escorted to the taxi lane.

On May 27, Sobrepeña filed criminal complaints for arbitrary detention and grave coercion against the team of immigration officials who stopped him from leaving the country.

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The complaints against Benito Se, Bureau of Immigration airport operations division chief; immigration supervisor Luzviminda Boto; immigration officer Johnel Badua and a John Doe were filed at the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.

Lawyer Manuel Ubarra, CJHDevco vice president for litigation, said Sobrepeña was not a flight risk and not covered by a hold-departure order.

Sobrepeña was stopped from leaving allegedly because of malversation charges filed by the Department of Justice against him and CJHDevco on April 1 in a Baguio court.

The case involved allegedly unremitted shares owed to BCDA from the operations of Camp John Hay hotels that were subjects of a 2008 debt settlement.

The settlement gives the government 16 units of The Manor and 10 units of The Suites (which was renamed Forest Lodge) as part of CJHDevco’s dacion en pago (payments in kind) worth P121 million that were issued to partially settle CJHDevco’s unpaid rent now pegged at over P3 billion.

A day before his flight, Sobrepeña and CJHDevco officials posted bail at a Baguio court.

Ubarra said Sobrepeña also informed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima about his trip. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Burea of Immigration, Camp John Hay Development Corp.
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