POSTSCRIPT / July 9, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Mison unburdens self on reform ‘saboteurs’

IMMIGRATION Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison blasted away yesterday at his detractors whom he accused of sabotaging his reforms in the immigration bureau and maligning his reputation.

In a letter to President Noynoy Aquino, Mison answered a full-page newspaper “open letter” (not in the Philippine STAR) of one Atty. Faisal Hussin, who signed as president of the Buklod ng Kawani ng CID (BUKLOD-CID) and supposedly on behalf of its members.

The immigration chief said that BUKLOD-CID, the recognized BI labor association, has disowned Hussin’s statement and clarified that its executive board did not authorize him to write the “letter”. The commissioner quoted Atty. Gregorio Sadiasa, the current president, as saying “any statement made therein is his (Hussin’s) personal opinion and not of the BUKLOD-CID.”

Mison said Hussin’s ad “is another case of misrepresentation, the very same offense he committed in 2009 when he falsified his birth date in his Personal Data Sheet to justify his prolonged stay at the bureau”. He added that Hussin is an accused in an extortion case filed two years ago in Cebu by a foreigner.

He lumped Hussin with disgruntled “old timers” who he said “have lost and continue to lose illegal revenue from corrupt practices.”

Some immigration officials have been mentioned, incidentally, in a justice department investigation of an alleged fund-raising attempt involving Wang Bo, a Chinese linked to large-scale gambling and whom Mison wants deported as an undesirable alien.

A lawyer and former Army major (West Point 1987), the 49-year-old Mison said he would resign if the bureau were used, as reported, to raise funds for the Liberal Party in preparation for the May 2016 national elections.

Immigration chief answers issues raised

REFERRING to the paid ad of Hussin in a major broadsheet last Monday, Mison answered the issues raised against him:

• Reimbursement of gasoline and toll expenses: This issue was resolved a long time ago for which Mison was reprimanded. The reimbursement claims were prepared by his subordinate (whom he immediately fired for that specific misconduct) as, he said, it was physically impossible for him to check every reimbursement’s correctness.

Mison said his accuser, Atty. Felino Quirante Jr., was himself a respondent in an Ombudsman case for illegally receiving funds, which case was however dismissed due to his demise last year. “In deference to the late Atty. Quirante and as a matter of respect to his family, I deem it wise not to elaborate,” he said.

• Fu Gaofeng deportation case: Mison said that as commissioner, he issued a warrant of deportation under the erroneous belief that the deportation order has reached its finality. He rectified the error, recalled the defective warrant after finding out that the alien’s lawyer did not receive a copy of the deportation order. His decision to recall the warrant was bolstered by a resolution of the justice secretary releasing Fu, which shows that the deportation order was not final.

Mison said his accuser, Ricardo Cabochan, is a known ally of Hussin who used to head the BI Baguio office until his relief due to embezzlement under his watch. He was also suspended for three months due to his negligence in the visa processing of a foreigner. He had served his suspension, but not without filing at least three complaints against Mison. He said Cabochan was also implicated in an NBI investigation where Koreans in Baguio complained of extortion.

• Wilson Ong Cheng case: Records show that Cheng’s name was lawfully lifted from the blacklist and the appropriate fees were paid on Nov. 4, 2014, but the lifting was apparently not reflected in the airport’s database when Cheng entered last March 11. Thus, his request to recall the exclusion order was immediately allowed after documents were verified. There was no irregularity. Mison said Hussin is now an accused for extortion in a case filed by Cheng, the subject of the recall order.

Hussin should have retired in 2013 upon reaching age 65, according to Mison, but he allegedly falsified his birth documents to prolong his stay in the bureau. He added that Hussin has been the subject of not less than 10 administrative cases during his “extended” stay, most of which involved extortion and harassment of foreigners. Majority of these cases have either been dismissed due to technicalities or lack of interest of the complainants, while some have resulted in a reprimand.

• Overtime Pay: Since the institutionalization of express lane fees in 1989, all previous commissioners as well as BI employees have been receiving a corresponding share in the trust fund pursuant to Section 7-A of the C.A. 613 and pertinent DOJ regulations. A May 2014 memorandum from the Commission on Audit stated that: “[C]onsidering the practice for BI Commissioners to receive overtime pay and that there is no provision of law exempting the incumbent BI Commissioner from the receipt thereof, there exists no reason why Commissioner Mison cannot be allowed to receive the same overtime pay because he is also an employee of the Bureau of Immigration.”

Infighting in immigration bureau continues

IN HIS letter to the President, Mison lamented: “The bureau has gone through great lengths to implement the President’s ‘tuwid na daan’ policy, but these people do not want to change their old and corrupt ways.

“Their willingness to shell out more than P300,000 to publish a letter supposedly sanctioned by the recognized labor association of the bureau reflects that their efforts are well-funded and organized.

“Atty. Hussin and Associate Commissioner Gilberto Repizo (mentioned in the Wang Bo deportation controversy) worked closely together as technical assistants of an Associate Commissioner from 1996 to 1998. Hussin and Cabochan are seen very often in the office of AC Repizo since the latter assumed office last December 2013.

“This latest attack on my integrity is a manifestation that my campaign against the ‘bad guys’ from within is working. But it also indicates that they will resort to all kinds of machinations to perpetuate or put themselves in positions of power and influence in the bureau.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 9, 2015)

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