Lookout order out vs Mighty Corporation owner, brother

MANILA-- The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday ordered the issuance of an immigration lookout bulleting order (ILBO) against the owner of the controversial tobacco firm Mighty Corporation Alex Wongchuking and his brother Ceasar Dy Wongchuking.

In a memorandum dated March 7, DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to instruct all immigration officers in the country's airports and seaports to be on the lookout to prevent attempts of the Wong Chu King brothers to leave the country.

Aside from the Bureau of Immigration, the Philippine National Police (PNP) was furnished a copy of the order. It directs the BI to coordinate with the PNP to obtain additional information about the subject of this order in order to facilitate its enforcement.

BI Spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said the names of the Wong Chu King brothers have been entered into their system on Tuesday.

"Both of them are still in the country based on travel records," the BI official added.

She said that all international ports have been alerted to report to proper agency if there is an attempt of those in the order to leave the country.

"Automatic guidance kami sa department kung ma encounter. Kung ma monitor tawag kami sa Office of the Justice Secretary," she added.

An ILBO is different from a court-issued hold departure order (HDO) since the former only directs the BI to be on the lookout for the subject and to verify the status of a case against the subject person and not to restrict an individual from leaving the country.

But a person subject to the ILBO should seek an Allow Departure Order (ADO) from the DOJ chief to be allowed to leave.

On Wednesday, Aguirre said that Alex Wong Chu King wants to cooperate with the government to settle the tax deficiencies of his company.Aguirre made the comment after he met with Wong Chu King in a closed-door meeting at the DOJ where the latter promised to cooperate in any investigation by the authorities, noting that he was not arrested because there is no case filed against him.

"We just talked. He expressed his willingness to fully cooperate with any investigation that may involve him. Why was he not arrested? At the time of our meeting yesterday, there were no cases filed against Mr. Alex Wong Chu King yet, that is why I did not order his arrest," he said in a statement.

"There is no reason to have Alex Wong Chu King arrested as of the moment. While the Department of Justice is at the forefront of ensuring that our laws be faithfully obeyed, there is a process that has to be observed under the law," Aguirre further stated.

Aguirre said instead of immediately arresting Wong Chu King, representatives of Mighty Corp, the BIR and the BOC together with the DOJ "should sit down and fully determine the exact liabilities" of the tobacco firm, if any.The DOJ secretary assured that the government is determine to collect Mighty Corp's tax obligations once it is established.

"I believe that the proper thing to do is for the representatives of Mighty Corp., the Department of Finance (DOF), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the DoJ to sit down and to fully determine the exact liabilities of Mighty Corp. if any and for the government to collect what is rightfully due to it," Aguirre noted.

"If the DOF or the BIR or the BOC will determine that a criminal case should be filed against Mighty Corp., its officers or against Alex Wong Chu King with us at the DOJ, then we will faithfully discharge our duty and determine if probable cause exists," he added.

Earlier, the BOC said it mulls the filing of a PHP1 billion tax evasion case against Mighty Corporation for alleged failure to pay the amount in excise taxes to the government.

The BOC also said it intends to suspect the company's import accreditation due to findings that it allegedly smuggled cigarettes into the country.

The company has already denied the allegations that it used fake tax stamps on its cigarettes.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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