Court upholds Immigation power to arrest, detain illegal aliens
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Immigration said on Sunday a Davao City regional trial court has upheld its authority to arrest and detain aliens suspected of violating Philippine immigration laws.
In a statement, the BI said the judge dismissed for lack of merit a petition for habeas corpus filed by 12 Indian nationals arrested recently by immigration operatives for being undocumented aliens.
Davao RTC Branch 14 Judge George Omelio also ruled that the petition of the Indians became moot and academic due to the filing by immigration prosecutors of deportation cases against the aliens before the BI board of commissioners.
“The term ‘court’ includes quasi-judicial bodies of the governmental agencies authorized to order the person’s confinement like the deportation board of the Bureau of Immigration,” Omelio said in his ruling dated September 29.
Omelio also cited a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, which said that once a detained person was duly charged in court, he could no longer question his detention by filing a writ of habeas corpus.
The high tribunal, in the same ruling, suspended a Manila judge for three months for ordering the BI to release a Chinese national despite the filing of deportation charge sheet against him.
Omelio also cited another Supreme Court ruling that held that the filing of a charge sheet against an alien before the BI would be enough to “cure whatever irregularities or infirmities” that attended his arrest.
The only remedy to the foreign national, according to the Court, is for him to move for the dismissal of the charge sheet and revocation of the mission order for his arrest that was issued by the BI commissioner.
BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. hailed the trial court’s decision, saying it sent a strong signal to illegal aliens that they could not question the bureau’s authority to arrest and deport foreigners who flaunt the country’s immigration laws.
David lamented that petitioning the courts for a writ of habeas corpus has always been conveniently employed by aliens to secure their release from detention.
The case stemmed from the arrest by BI operatives of 31 Indian nationals in Davao City last September 19 following intelligence reports of the increasing number of illegal aliens entering the country via the so-called “southern backdoor.”
Of the 31 who were investigated, 12 were detained and charged for being undocumented while the 19 others were directed to appear before the bureau for further investigation.
Initial investigation, however, revealed that the visas of the 19 Indians were questionable.
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