Panel formed to probe Korean man’s escape

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05:54 AM March 28th, 2013

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By: Jerome Aning, March 28th, 2013 05:54 AM

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has formed a three-member fact-finding panel to investigate last week’s escape from the country of a South Korean fugitive.

In Department Order No. 26 issued on Tuesday, De Lima appointed Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Aileen Marie Gutierrez head of the panel with National Bureau of Investigation agents Jonathan Mengullo and Don Hernandez as members.

De Lima’s order followed President Aquino’s directive to investigate Bureau of Immigration (BI)officers who may have helped Park Sung-jun escape through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 19.

Unrecorded departure

The panel has been tasked with finding out how Park’s departure apparently went unrecorded despite his being on the BI’s blacklist since July 2012 as an undocumented and undesirable alien.

Park was wanted in his country in connection with a $25-million investment scam. He was detained at the BI jail in Taguig City after his passport was cancelled by Korean authorities. He was also the subject of deportation proceedings following a request from the South Korean embassy in Manila.

Park, however, was able to get out of detention and even obtain a working visa. Last week, he was able to buy a Philippine Airlines ticket to Seoul but he was arrested upon landing by Korean authorities who decried not being advised by Philippine officials about his trip.

Within 30 days

De Lima instructed the panel to submit within 30 days a report on its findings and recommendations, including the criminal and administrative charges that may be filed against those found liable.

The panel was also directed to coordinate with the BI, particularly acting intelligence chief Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, on any information and evidence they may have.

De Lima earlier met with Mangrobang and Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David to hear their explanation about Park’s escape. The secretary later said at least six immigration officers and personnel may have been involved, with one of them being recalled to the BI main office.

Gutierrez was also the lead prosecutor in the case involving immigration agents charged with conspiring with a human trafficking ring to spirit out undocumented workers through Clark International Airport in 2010.

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