At least two out of the 53 persons with hold-departure orders (HDOs) to their names arising from their involvement in the pork barrel scam have fled the country, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Siegfred Mison confirmed on Friday.
Mison identified the two scammers as Antonio Ortiz and Renato Ornopia, who had skipped the Philippines before the Sandiganbayan issued the HDOs against them.
Ortiz was a former director-general of the Technology Resource Center while Ornopia was an employee of JLN Co. and president of the Kaupdan Para sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc., supposedly a non-government organization controlled by Janet Lim-Napoles (JLN), alleged mastermind of the P10-billion scam.
Mison said they are checking more than 15 names given to them by the Sandiganbayan to avoid arresting the wrong persons who may have the same names as those with HDOs.
BI spokesman and lawyer Elaine Tan said they are still “triple-checking” the bureau’s system to fully determine whether a named respondent on its HDO list is really the person in the agency’s records.
Mison, for example, cited the case of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is accused of plunder in connection with the pork barrel scam and whose name in his passport is Jinggoy Estrada but Jose Estrada in the HDO issued against him.
He said they are coordinating with the Sandiganbayan and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to verify the real names of all pork scammers with HDOs.
Mison expressed confidence that the persons on the HDO list would not be able to leave the country, partly because Immigration officers had been alerted on possible attempts by the scammers to escape.
He, however, admitted that they would have a difficulty in monitoring the departure of those with HDOs through the Philippines’ backdoor.
Of the 53 implicated in the pork barrel scam, 21 are still in the country, including Sen. Estrada, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Janet Lim Napoles and her children Jo Christine and James Christopher, Dennis Cunanan and Mario Relampagos.
Mison said Reynaldo Lim, a brother of Janet, is also still in the country.