IMMIGRATION Commissioner Siegfred Mison has stripped the authority of Associate Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilberto Repizo and Executive Director Eric Dimaculangan, to sign documents in the wake of a bribery scandal that has rocked the bureau.
The move was prompted by allegations that suspected Chinese crime lord Wang Bo had paid Immigration officials P400 million in exchange for a reversal of his deportation order.
Under an administrative order issued by Mison, Mangotara, Repizo and Dimaculangan will no longer be able to sign documents pertaining to visa issuances and extensions, alien registration and citizenship, the lifting of orders and all other significant immigration matters.
The three have been limited to reviewing, collecting and coordinating issues from the divisions, sections and units.
Immigration spokesperson Elaine Tan, meanwhile, clarified that Eric Dimaculangan was not fired from the bureau, contrary to reports.
“The reports are not true. All commissioners and the executive director are still in office,” said Tan.
“Contrary to rumors, deputy executive secretary Eric Dimaculangan still acts as the board secretary, in addition to his visa implementation functions.
“He still is the board secretary. However, Mison designated lawyer Vicente Uncad as assistant board secretary to share the responsibility in handling deportation cases,” Tan added.
She said that all actions on the Wang Bo case and “collateral incidents” were before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for determination.
Wang had earlier been deported to China at the behest of Beijing, but the BI later issued another order reversing the summary deportation.
Mison claimed that he recommended Wang’s deportation, but his decision was blocked by two associate immigration commissioners who argued that Wang should not be deported to China as he had committed a crime in the Philippines.
De Lima had earlier issued a resolution reinstating the summary deportation order against Chinese fugitive Wang Bo.
De Lima, in a resolution dated June 8, set aside the May 21 resolution of the BI’s Board of Commissioners reversing the earlier deportation order and releasing the fugitive from BI custody, and ruled in favor of Wang’s deportation.
However, the implementation of the De Lima deportation order has been held in abeyance pending an investigation into allegations that a P400-million bribe was paid to prevent Wang’s deportation and other suspicious circumstances surrounding the issue, including the delay in the implementation, and eventual reversal, of the deportation order.
The House committee on good governance and public accountability has already launched an investigation into the controversy and summoned all immigration commissioners. The House hearingv is expected to resume on July 7.
A ranking Immigration official who requested anonymity since he was not authorized to speak, said the two associate commissioners and Dimaculangan would continue to receive their salaries for doing nothing.
Dimaculangan, a former jail warden with close ties to the Aquino family, was appointed the bureau’s executive director by President Benigno Aquino III, and was said to be groomed to replace Mison.
Reports said it was Dimaculangan’s prodding that compelled the two associate commissioners to reverse their previous deportation order against Wang.
Dimaculangan has declined to comment on the allegations against him.
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