BI official fired over Wang case

IMMIGRATION Commissioner Siegfred Mison has removed Eric Dimaculangan, the No. 4 man in the bureau, as secretary of the Board of Commissioners after he was suspected of conniving with other commissioners to gain the release of suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo.

Mison’s letter to Dimaculangan gave no reason for his removal as board secretary.

Known in the bureau as “the little commissioner” due to his closeness to the powers-that-be, Dimaculangan retains his title as the bureau’s executive director, the No. 4 man in the hierarchy.

Fired. This photo shows President
Noynoy Aquino in Malacanang Palace
with Eric Dimaculangan.
Unimpeachable sources said Mison had lost confidence in Dimaculangan after he was tagged as the one behind an “orchestrated effort by LP [Liberal Party] boys” to prevent Wang from being deported to China.

“Being the executive director, he was the bureau’s little commissioner just like Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa is ‘little president’ to the Palace. Dimaculangan is the bureau’s implementing arm. But he did not implement the  March 5summary deportation order against Wang Bo,” the source said.

“Dimaculangan is also the board secretary of the Board of Commissioners headed by Mison and with Deputy Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara as members. Dimaculangan calendars the BOC’s meetings. He dictates on the agenda. And so on  May 21, he scheduled the BOC meeting that produced the release order for Wang, completely reversing the summary deportation order,” the source said.

“Dimaculangan is very close to the Palace. Eric and the President are text mates. They go out together. He is on the same level as Ochoa... in the innermost circle,” a Palace source told The Standard.

The source said Dimaculangan was so brazen in having Wang released that he had the  May 21  release order assigned to Repizo, who wrote the release order.

“Dimaculangan was supposed to report directly to Mison but in the case of Wang, he had information hidden from Mison and he went instead directly to the LP guys – Repizo and Mangotara, keeping Mison in the dark.

“The Wang Bo case was a done deal from the start. Dimaculangan and the LP boys knew how much Wang was worth – P91 billion. They knew about Skybet, the illegal casino gambling operations of Wang. Yet Dimaculangan and Repizo prevented Wang’s deportation. Eric was not even careful. He was not afraid because even if he was found out, no one could touch him, even Mison or Justice Secretary Leila de Lima because he is close to the Palace,” the source said.

Standard reporter Vito Barcelo went to Dimaculangan’s office and was made to wait 30 minutes before being told by a member of his staff that the executive director would not comment.

In a report to De Lima labeled as “confidential,” a copy of which was furnished The Standard, Mison said the Bureau issued a Summary Deportation Order on  March 5.

On  March 12, Mison said the legal division headed by lawyer Cris Villalobos transmitted Wang’s entire case file to Dimaculangan’s office “without any remarks.”

Mison’s confidential report said that on  April 21, Wang’s lawyer Dennis Manalo filed an urgent motion for reconsideration “directly with the Office of the Executive Director (Dimaculangan).”

On the same day, Dimaculangan’s office transmitted Wang’s entire case file to the office of Repizo.

Mison attached to the confidential report Dimaculangan’s memorandum addressed to Repizo on the transmission of the entire case file of Wang.

“A few days before the  May 21  BOC meeting, Mison received a report that Repizo and other BI officials met with a representative of Wang,” the source said.

“After I was told about the meeting, I was not anymore surprised when Repizo and Mangotara changed their tune and pushed for the reversal of the SDO in favor of the release order,” Mison had told The Standard.

On May 21, confidential documents show Dimaculangan included the Wang case in the BOC special meeting agenda.

“2.12. 21 May 2015 – Associate Commissioner Repizo presented his draft resolution to the Board of Commissioners granting the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration on grounds of due process and rules on admissibility of foreign documents. The BOC signed the Resolution, which reversed and set aside the  March 5  SDO (Annex “CC”). BI legal division acting chief issued a Memorandum directing the Warden, BI Bicutan Facility to release Wang Bo pursuant to the 21 May 2015 Resolution (Annex “DD.)”

The source said Mison was all the more convinced that Dimaculangan was working on the release of the fugitive when during the May 26 special agenda meeting, Dimaculangan echoed Repizo’s position that Wang must be released because the Chinese Embassy failed to provide the bureau “authenticated documents” such as the warrant for Wang’s arrest, his case in China and the official document that would prove that Wang’s passport had been revoked.

Mison maintained there was no need for the Chinese Embassy to produce authenticated documents since the deportation is purely a government-to-government dealing with both sides invoking the “presumption of regularity.”

On May 26, the Chinese Embassy sent police attache Fu Yufein to Mison to submit the authenticated documents and other evidence that would prove that Wang was a fugitive wanted by the Interpol for his illegal gambling activities in China and for money laundering.

Wang was accused of laundering money into the Philippines by bringing in bank cards to expand his illegal gambling operations in Manila, making his crime transnational.

Fu also submitted the same documents to De Lima.

Despite the authenticated documents, Repizo and Mangotara refused to sign Mison’s resolution setting aside the  May 21  release order and reinstating the  March 5  summary deportation order.

Repizo invoked “political considerations against China and discretion” in refusing to surrender Wang to Chinese authorities.

While admitting his argument had no bearing on the Wang case, Repizo insisted he was in support of President Benigno Aquino III’s position against China over the West Philippine Sea dispute and thus, the Philippines should not simply grant whatever the Chinese government wanted, particularly in the deportation of its national.

“Mison found himself all alone, with supposedly his own man, Dimaculangan, taking the side of Repizo and Mangotara,” the source said.

On May 27, De Lima upheld Mison and ordered that Wang’s release be “held in abeyance.” She also ordered that the  March 5  summary deportation order be reinstated.

The source said Mison sought De Lima’s permission to fire Dimaculangan as BOC board secretary. De Lima gave her approval.

De Lima  on Tuesday  said she would defer the deportation of Wang because the special team at the National Bureau of Investigation had not yet finished its probe into allegations that he paid Immigration officials millions of pesos in exchange for his release, and that the money went to bribing lawmakers into passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

De Lima held a closed door meeting with NBI probers  Tuesday  who admitted that they have yet to get a statement from Wang and several personalities who handled his case since his arrest last February.

De Lima said the NBI team is scheduled to interview Wang next week, and would also talk to Wang, former National Press Club president Benny Antiporda and the lawyer who represented the complainant in the “bogus” estafa complaint against Wang that was allegedly meant to delay his deportation.

“The estafa case has been dismissed by the Manila prosecutor’s office because the complainant did not appear. So we want to know if the complainant is a real person,” De Lima said.

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