RCBC exec’s lawyer: BI officials admitted offloading had no basis | Inquirer News

RCBC exec’s lawyer: BI officials admitted offloading had no basis

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 09:57 PM March 13, 2016

MANILA — The lawyer of Maia Santos-Deguito, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. branch manager at the center of a money-laundering scandal, claimed on Sunday, that Bureau of Immigration officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport admitted to him that the off-loading of Deguito from her flight to Tokyo had no basis.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio claimed that BI Commissioner Ronaldo Geron candidly told him that he issued the look-out order on Deguito hastily.

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“We condemn in the strongest terms possible the blatant violation of the constitutional and human rights of our client, perpetrated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI), in forcibly offloading her, her husband and 10-year old son from a plane at the last minute that it was about to leave for Japan,” lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said in a statement and vowed to pursue charges against government agencies and officials responsible for the allegedly illegal action.

Deguito and her family were on their way to Tokyo Disneyland as a birthday and Lenten gift for her son.

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“The heavy-handed manner by which the offloading was done, which would not be out of place in a police state such as North Korea, has traumatized not only Ms Deguito and her husband, but worse, her child of tender years, who kept crying throughout the ordeal and even all the way back home, as he could not, in his young mind, understand why his plane going to Disneyland left without him,” Topacio said.

The lawyer said he was able to talk last Friday to the immigration officers who, he said, told him that they were not aware of any bases for preventing Deguito from leaving, as there were no cases filed against her and there was no hold-departure order issued by a court against her.  (There were still no cases and HDOs against Deguito as of Sunday.)

Topacio said he also spoke to BI Commissioner Ronaldo Geron, who reportedly issued the “lookout order” that was the basis for off-loading Deguito from her flight.

“[Geron] admitted to me that he hastily issued a last-minute ‘lookout order’ –whatever that is. [He] admitted to me that there are no cases and no hold-departure order against my client. Although he is also a lawyer, I discussed with him the legal ramifications of the BI’s actions,” Topacio recounted.

The lawyer said the Supreme Court no less has issued a restraining order preventing the Department of Justice and Bureau of Immigration from implementing such a “lookout order,” in the case of Arroyo v. Secretary of Justice, wherein the immigration authorities used such an order to prevent former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from leaving the country at the time the case of electoral sabotage or any case for that matter had not been filed against her.

A “lookout order” was also issued against American singer Chris Brown in July last year after an estafa complaint was filed against him by the Iglesia ni Cristo. Brown was prevented from leaving the country until he secured clearance from the BI.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council and the National Bureau of Investigation are looking into the alleged laundering of $81 million stolen from the United States account of the Bangladesh central bank through the Philippine financial system.

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Allegedly upon the request of RCBC lawyers, Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, who is leading a Senate investigation into the matter, reportedly asked the DOJ to stop Deguito from leaving the country.

But according to Topacio, lookout orders are contrary to the constitutionally guaranteed right to travel.

“Such brazen disregard of the fundamental rights of my client has no place in a civilized and democratic society. What is scary is that there seems to be a pattern of such transgressions of constitutional rights being continuously done by the BI in other cases,” he said.

He said he and his client would be “constrained” to file the appropriate charges against Geron, Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas and the immigration officers who offloaded Deguito “before the Ombudsman (for graft), the Civil Service Commission, the Commission on Human Rights, the Supreme Court (for contempt and disbarment) and the ordinary courts (for damages and child abuse).”

“These officials who show no hesitation of running roughshod over people’s rights should be taught a lesson: while they think that under the present administration their evil actions may be tolerated and even abetted, the cases taking them to task for their misdeeds will long outlive the present government and justice will be attained under a new dispensation,” Topacio said.  SFM

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TAGS: AMLC, Anti-Money Laundering Council, bank executives, Banking, banks, BI, Bureau of Immigration, Chris Brown, congressional hearing, congressional inquiry, Constitution, Crime, Department of Justice, DoJ, Ferdinand Topacio, Finance, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Human rights, investigation, Justice, law, legislative hearing, legislative inquiry, Maia Santos-Deguito, Money Laundering, News, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, off-loading, Philippine Congress, right to travel, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., Ronaldo Geron, Senate, Sergio Osmeña III, Travel
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