The drive to rid the Bureau of Immigration’s Cebu unit may have hit a sandbar due to certain powerful politicians, supposedly allies of President Noynoy Aquino, who are interfering with the mopping up operations initiated by the new leadership in the person of officer-in-charge Roy Ledesma.
While the clean-up drive in Manila has already shifted to high gear, the situation pertaining in Cebu City still has to achieve lift-off with the incessant meddling of personages identified with the political parties that helped Aquino get elected to the presidency who are said to be blocking the top-to-bottom revamp that Ledesma wants to implement.
Just last week, Ledesma, with the go-signal from his boss Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, sacked 39 BI employees and suspended 23 others as part of the ongoing purge he was tasked to implement to rid the BI of corrupt and inept people.
This move comes exactly a month after the head of the BI-Airport Operations Division Ferdinand Sampol, as well as his right hand man, Ninoy Aquino International Airport intelligence chief Jun Berberabe were canned when they were implicated by various non-government organizations (the Blas Ople Center for one) in alleged human trafficking activities.
Sampol, a protégé and classmate at the Ateneo de Manila of Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Mikey Arroyo, immediately filed a leave of absence after getting his marching orders from Ledesma and left for a vacation in the United States. Sources in the Immigration bureau claimed he is now the subject of a lifestyle check by the Office of the Ombudsman for unexplained wealth in allegedly owning a multi-million Jollibee franchise as well as various real estate properties, townhouses and expensive cars.
While viewed as laudable, the firestorm started by Ledesma falls sorely short of expectations because, to our knowledge, this has barely made a dent on the operations of human smuggling syndicates at the NAIA — made up of shady Immigration and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) people who fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice department — that facilitate the entry of illegal aliens for hefty fees ranging upwards of P200,000 per head, depending on the “urgency” of the situation.
A case in point is this one regarding a certain Ezekiel Lok, reportedly a Malaysian carrying an Australian passport, who arrived at the NAIA last July 23. NBI agents led by this “Ross Bautista” were said to have arrested the subject immediately upon disembarking based on a tip that he was carrying spurious travel documents.
It had been brought to our attention that the office of Secretray Leila de Lima is currently investigating certain NBI agents for releasing the Malaysian that very same day upon the intercession of an unnamed NBI deputy director.
Lok was reportedly able to secure falsified marriage and birth certificates to make it appear he was a Filipino citizen after forking over the huge cash requirements of his NBI and BI handlers. It was noted that while Lok’s documents indicated he was born to Filipino parents Alfredo Lok and Norma Reyes in Agusan del Norte on July 8, 1961, he couldn’t speak one word in Pilipino or for that matter any local dialect while being questioned at the NAIA.
Lok is in now in the country, free as a bird, thanks to corrupt BI and NBI officials. He is one of several thousands. And this has been going on for years now, in various ports all over the country such as the NAIA, Mactan-Cebu International Airport and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport which are the normal entry and exit points of all illegal aliens and undocumented OFWs. So you can just imagine the huge amounts of money these criminal human trafficking gangs have been making.