THE so-called entry-for-a-fee, fly-for-a fee-racket is backed at the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Entry for a fee refers to the practice of allegedly corrupt Immigration personnel and officials of allowing entry of banned foreigners or those on the immigration’s “black list” in exchange for a big sum of money that could reach several millions of pesos.
Fly for a fee involves foreigners who are on the bureau’s “hold departure order” list because of pending cases in the country.
The return of the old racket was discovered with the recent arrest of Wong Iek Man, a Chinese, at the Mactan City International Airport (MCIA) in Cebu by Customs authorities after suspicious substances, believed to be illegal drugs, were found in his luggage.
Documents obtained by The Manila Times showed that Wong, 58, a native of Fujian, China, was placed on the BI’s blacklist order on January 14, 2015 for being an undesirable alien.
According to the documents, “Wong’s name was included in the blacklist as a consequence of exclusion on 12 January 2015… The inspector noted Wong is a possible courier, having been monitored by the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit to arrive on different occasions with different Chinese nationals but not departing with them.”
Under Immigration rules, a blacklist order can only be lifted after a minimum of one year after approval by the Immigration commissioner.
Immigration spokesman Elaine Tan explained that a blacklist order can only be lifted after a year, five years or 10 years, depending on the gravity of the offense and payment of corresponding penalties.
“The offender is also required to submit documents that would prove that the reasons for his or her being on the blacklist no longer exist,” Tan told The Times.
During his arrest, Wong showed a document, signed by Immigration Commissioner Sigfried Mison, that his name has already been lifted from the blacklist order.
He arrived at the MCIA on May 4.
Customs authorities found in his luggage a box with some 3 kilograms of powdery substance packed in small zip lock sachets and one plastic crystal-like substance in a sachet.
Samples were take by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for laboratory tests but turned out negative for the presence of dangerous drugs.
Similar incidents happened in the past.
Among them was the escape of international Vietnamese terrorist Vo Van Duc.
The Times sources said Duc paid P50 million for his freedom.