AFTER he was barred from leaving the country, Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) Chairman Robert John Sobrepeña filed a criminal complaint against the immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Sobrepeña charged Bureau of Immigration (BI) operations chief Benito Se, Jr., BI supervisor Luzviminda Boto, and BI officer Johnel Badua and another unidentified immigration officer with arbitrary detention and grave coercion before the Pasay City Prosecutors Office.
In his complaint-affidavit, Sobre-peña said the incident took place on May 11 when the BI officers at NAIA Ter- minal 1 stopped him from taking his flight to the United States without a court-issued hold departure order (HDO).
Sobrepeña recounted that he had already passed immigration counters and was already seated inside the plane before he was forced by respondents to disembark without any court order or legal paper to prevent him from traveling.
He also alleged that he was unlawfully detained by the immigration officers and was only released when they could not produce any legal papers to further hold him.
He branded his unlawful detention at the airport and forcing him to not to take his flight without any court or legal papers as a “brazen display of the abuse of power of the immigration officers who have the gall of violating his constitutionally-protected right to travel.”
According to Sobrepeña, the BI officers held him on the basis of mere verbal advisories of “higher-ups in the immigration authority and/or their bosses in the DOJ.”
Sobpreña is charged with malversation of public funds before the Department of Justice (DoJ) for CJHDevCO’s alleged failure to meet its contractual obligations to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) concerning the John Hay Special Economic Zone in Baguio City.
He also belied claims made by BCDA President Arnel Casanova that he intended to leave the county to flee from malversation charges filed against him.
The CJHDevCo) Chairman stressed that he had already written DoJ about his plans to travel to the US between May 8 to 18 for a business trip.
If proven guilty, respondents may face imprisonment for a period of six months and one day and the payment of a fine.