THE lawyer of suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo on Friday expressed fears for his client’s safety, saying he has been unable to see him since Congress began its probe Tuesday on allegations that Immigration officials had ordered his release in exchange for millions of pesos that went to bribing lawmakers into passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
In an interview on radio dzRH, lawyer Dennis Manalo said his client may have been subjected to torture after he was isolated and denied access to counsel by authorities in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, since Tuesday.
“With the current violation of his right to counsel, we fear for the safety of our client. I do not know what is happening to him anymore or what will happen to him. I have not seen him and authorities at Camp Bagong Diwa, where I last saw him and where he is being held, refuse to show him to us,” Manalo said.
He demanded that the authorities produce Wang, so he could testify before the House panel investigating his case.
“I was told that Mr. Bo Wang has been isolated. He was separated from other detainees. We have an anti-torture law. If a detainee was transferred and authorities made him feel he was about to be killed, that is torture.
If he was deprived of seeing his family, that is torture, and if he was barred from seeing his lawyer, that is a violation of his human rights,” Manalo said.
He warned that if Wang has been subjected to torture, anything that he admitted would be inadmissible in court.
Manalo said the lawyers of other detainees in Bicutan were allowed to go in and out of the detention facility to see their clients, but he has not been allowed to do so.
He said the last time he saw Wang was during a hearing on a writ of habeas corpus petition that he filed with the Court of Appeals before Tuesday’s congressional hearing being conducted by the House committee on good government and public accountability.
In response to the Chinese Embassy accusation that Wang was a fugitive and ran a P91 billion illegal gambling operation in the country, Manalo said his client was an innocent victim of mistaken identity.
He described Wang as a successful businessman who gained powerful enemies in China.
Manalo added that Wang was a mere employee at ELC Technologies, Inc. which is accredited with the Cagayan Export Zone Authority, and gets a monthly salary of only P25,000.
Manalo said Wang was only granted a “working CEZA visa” and not a business visa.
“Mr. Wang is a successful businessman and he has had his share of enemies in China, who have threatened not only his livelihood but his very life and well-being. He fears strongly that should he be summarily deported, his life would be endangered and that he will merely be persecuted by his opponents, who are politically and socially powerful,” said Manalo in his Feb. 12 pleadings with the Bureau of Immigration’s Board of Commissioners, led by Commissioner Siegfred Mison and with Deputy Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilberto Repizo as members.
But Manalo could not explain why Wang was in and out of the country and goes on vacation in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Macau except to say that he was single at 31.
He also did not explain how Wang managed to actively make donations to various charities in the country.
Manalo denied his client paid off the lawmakers and LP politicians in exchange for his freedom. He said he could not understand why his client was being “demonized” by the Chinese Embassy.
He branded as nonsense the embassy claim that Wang was a gambling lord and said he would be free if he really had that much money.
He also said he did not know where the embassy got the P91 billion figure that it said was the size of Wang’s gambling operation.
Manalo also said Wang, at 31, was too young to be a crime king.
The Chinese Embassy said Wang was an undocumented alien who was wanted by the Interpol for illegal gambling operations and money laundering.
The embassy said Wang should immediately be deported to face criminal charges in China.
Mison, in previous interview with the Standard, accused Repizo and other Immigration officials of meeting with Manalo and that after that meeting, Repizo and Mangotara changed their tune and pushed for the complete reversal of the March 5 summary deportation order in favor of the May 21 release order that would free Wang from detention.
Manalo also accused Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Mison, Mangotara and Repizo of illegally detaining his client by not implementing the May 21 release order that lifted the March 5 summary deportation order.
He said all three Immigration commissioners had signed the May 21 release order but Wang continued to be illegally detained until De Lima on May 27 issued an order to hold in abeyance Wang’s release that also reinstated the March 5 summary deportation order.
“We are at the situation where we feel that we are unaware of his present condition, his safety, and what he’s going through, and this is disturbing in a society that prides itself [as] a democracy and that heralds civil liberties. This is the opposite of all those,” he said.
Manalo said a lawyer he sent to Camp Bagong Diwa was told that Wang was no longer allowed to see anybody, but he kept quiet so as not to antagonize the authorities.
“We feared that if we sought the help of the media, we would cause more trouble for our client,” Manalo said.
The lawyer added that his client was being subject to character assassination.
He again questioned the documents sent by the Chinese Embassy, which were undocumented and written in Chinese script.
“How do we understand it?” he said. “Even if it is translated to English, the documents still need to be authenticated.”
Mison, during Tuesday’s panel hearing, said there was a presumption of regularity in the government-to-government communication.