De Lima says she OK’d Korean’s transfer; info may clear ex-BI chief
Could this revelation set former Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison free from liability?
Former Justice Secretary and now Liberal Party senatorial bet Leila de Lima on Friday admitted that she approved Mison’s move to transfer Korean fugitive Cho Seongdae to a facility of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces (ISAFP) Compound at the military headquarters in Quezon City in October.
Cho’s transfer, which later led to his second escape from detention after his arrest on human trafficking and extortion charges, was the basis of the National Bureau of Investigation’s recommendation to file charges of grave misconduct against Mison.
Cho was moved to the military facility after he escaped from the Bureau of Immigration’s Warden Facility (BIWF) in Bicutan, Taguig City, on Sept. 29 through an alleged P1-million payoff to immigration officers. He is currently detained at the NBI since his second rearrest.
The information was revealed for the first time by De Lima and Mison yesterday in response to statements made on Thursday by acting Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas on the possibility of revisiting administrative charges against him even if he is no longer in government service.
The NBI report on Cho’s escape made no mention of De Lima’s concurrence to the ISAFP transfer, saying Mison was administratively liable as the BI had “acted on its own, disregarding protocol” in moving Cho without first informing the DOJ. Both the NBI and the BI are agencies under the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Yes, I was informed about it and it was cleared with me,” said De Lima through text Friday.
She said there was “justifiable reason” to move Cho because of his escape from the BIWF.
“It was also my understanding that there were indications from the initial results of the probe into that prior escape from the BI detention facility that the BI personnel thereat were involved, hence it was no longer advisable or safe to keep that fugitive in that facility,” said the former Justice chief.
She said she was willing to vouch for the transfer, in case administrative charges against Mison would be pursued.
“Yes, of course. That’s the truth,” said De Lima.
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