BI gets passport records of accused in pork scam
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has received from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) pertinent documents that can help the bureau accurately determine who among the more than 50 people facing plunder and graft charges over their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam have already slipped out of the country.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison, in a press briefing, said that the DFA has furnished the BI with the accused individuals’ passport biographical pages containing a person’s photo, complete name, signature, date of birth, place of birth, place of issue, address, among others.
“We have just received a communication from the DFA and they gave us relevant passport information of several names included in the warrants of arrest and hold departure order (HDO). We got the passport biopages of those accused so we would now be able to check the right names as indicated in the passports and we can compare it in the names listed in the HDO or warrants issued by the Sandiganbayan,” Mison said.
“Sometimes there were three or four names that matched the name of a person on the HDO list given to us. So we clarified with the DFA. We will just amend the order such that it will include the person’s aliases. We will just supplement what the Sandiganbayan has given us just to make sure that the persons involved will not be able to leave the country,” he added.
According to him, the passport biopages would allow the BI to narrow down the list of who among the accused have already slipped out of the country.
Some of the accused, Mison said, had common names or had namesakes in the BI database, making it difficult for the authorities to determine the records of the accused with certainty.
To date, the BI has determined that two of the 54 accused have already fled the country. They are former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Antonio Ortiz and Renato Ornopia.
Mison said Ortiz and Ornopia left the country prior to the issuance of the hold-departure order by the Sandiganbayan.
“They’re still out of the country, but there is already an instruction that when they are encountered at the ports of entry, they will be withheld, they will be detained, and turned over to the police or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) personnel on duty at the airports,” he said.
Mison also said that among the more than 50 accused, one or two of them had no data at the DFA.
“In these cases, we had to request for more information from the Sandiganbayan,” Mison said.
BI spokesperson Elaine Tan earlier said that some records did not have date of birth, middle name, or that the accused might have a different name in the passport.
For instance, the name of Senator Jinggoy Estrada in his passport is “Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada” while the HDO is issued against “Jose Ejercito Estrada,” Tan has pointed out.
“This may be the reason why some of the accused have zero travel records,” she said.