BI: 2 pork scam personalities left PHL

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Friday, June 20, 2014


(UPDATED) ONLY two of the 53 people facing plunder and graft cases in the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) have left the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Friday.

BI spokesperson Elaine Tan said in a statement that as of Thursday, only former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Antonio Ortiz and Renato Ornopia, ex-utility worker at JLN Corporation owned by alleged scam leader Janet Napoles, have departed from the country prior to the issuance of the hold departure order (HDO) by the Sandiganbayan earlier this week.

Travel records of Ortiz and Ornopia were extracted from the BI database based on available information, particularly names stated in the HDO, and "internal information," she said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, for her part, will coordinate with the Office of the Ombudsman, the prosecutor in the PDAF cases, on what motions can be filed with the Sandiganbayan regarding the flight of two accused.

"The only thing we can do at this point is to find which country they are in so that we can resort to certain means to compel them to return here like MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) or extradition," she told reporters.

Meanwhile, Tan clarified that the list is not yet final since the agency is still "triple-checking" its system to be able to fully determine whether or not the named respondent in the HDO is really the person stated in the agency’s records.

"As the names itself are not sufficient to fully identify the person being checked, only half of the records have been determined to refer to the accused with certainty", she said.

Challenges to verifying records include the absence of date of birth, middle name, or that accused may have a different name in the passport.
For instance, Tan said the passport name of Senator Estrada is "Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada" while the HDO states "Jose Ejercito Estrada".

"This may be the reason why some of the accused have zero travel records", she said.

Earlier, BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison said around less than 10 accused have sneaked out of the country although they will still have to ask for more details from the Sandiganbayan to make sure that the individuals covered by the HDO are the same names recorded in the BI travel database.

The scam involves lawmakers who allegedly diverted their PDAF allocations to ghost projects of non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles in exchange for millions of pesos in kickbacks.

Among those charged with plunder and graft were Napoles and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., who surrendered to the anti-graft court following the issuance of arrest warrant against him. (Sunnex)

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