MANILA, Philippines—The escape from the Philippines of a Korean fugitive on March 19 was facilitated not only by immigration personnel but also Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) employees assigned to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 2, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“The initial findings of the investigation point to the fact that other than [Bureau of Immigration] officers, there were also personnel of the Office of Transport Security of the DOTC assigned to Naia 2 who were apparently involved as shown in the CCTV video and based on intelligence reports,” De Lima told reporters.
“So they (DOTC personnel) will be included in the investigation,” she added.
De Lima said these were some of the findings of the three-member probe team from the justice department that she convened last week to investigate the circumstances behind Park Sung-jung’s escape from the country.
Park, who is wanted in his country in connection with a $25-million investment scam, was able to fly out of Naia despite a request from the South Korean government to monitor his movements.
He was promptly arrested, however, by Korean authorities when his Philippine Airlines flight landed in Seoul.
President Aquino ordered an investigation into the escape of Park who had been blacklisted and was the subject of summary deportation procedures since June last year. He also ordered De Lima to file charges against those found responsible for helping the Korean escape.
Last week, De Lima said six immigration personnel were being investigated in connection with the incident.
Airport immigration officer Roselle Sacendoncillo, who was responsible for clearing Park’s departure, was also relieved and recalled to the BI main office while the investigation is going on.
De Lima said she would order the immigration bureau to stop its own investigation and let the DOJ team, composed of state prosecutors and National Bureau of Investigation agents, to handle the probe “so there will be no conflict, no confusion, no overlapping.”
Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation said the probe would extend to employees of other agencies assigned to the airport who may have facilitated the escape.
This will include not just BI and DOTC personnel but also the airport police, the source said.
The source said the amount of money that Park must have paid to effect his escape could not readily be ascertained.
“It could only be the Korean himself who can say exactly how much he spent and to whom he gave the cash,” the source said.
The investigation team is headed by senior assistant prosecutor Aileen Marie Gutierrez and includes NBI agents Jonathan Mengullo of the NBI’s antigraft division and Don Hernandez of its cybercrime division. With a report from Nancy Carvajal