THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the decision rendered by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima in connection with the alleged illegal activities involving several personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) stationed at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga.
In a 12-page decision dated January 5, 2015, the CA’s Sixth Division through Associate Justice Noel Tijam dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by Heranio Manalo, Lucito Mercado, Arlene Mendoza, Jacqueline Miranda, Ramon Lapid, and Misael Tayag against De Lima’s resolution finding them guilty of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, dishonesty and gross neglect of duty.
De Lima’s ruling reversed the earlier memorandum issued by then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra, which ordered the dismissal of the administrative charges against the petitioners.
On February 15, 2010, the DOJ formed an investigation panel composed by membersof the National Prosecution Service (NPS), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and BI to probe the alleged irregularities committed by several immigration personnel at the DMIA.
It came out in the course of the investigation that Racel Ong, also a BI personnel assigned at DMIA, was charged for violation of RA 9208 (Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act).
Ong said the petitioners were involved in illegal activities. In particular, she said the petitioners help passengers to enter and exit the country without E6 visas and other travel documents, including those who have been issued Hold Departure Orders (HDOs) and Watch List Orders (WLOs).
In its ruling written by Associate Justice Tijam and concurred in by Associate Justices Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and Agnes Reyes-Carpio, the appeals court held that De Lima has the power to discipline the petitioners.