MANILA The Sandiganbayan turned down a petition to cite Bureau of Immigration officials in contempt.
In a 14-page decision dated September 11 released to media Tuesday, the anti-graft court's First Division dismissed for lack of merit the petition to cite for indirect contempt filed by Engineer Modesto G. Membreve against BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente, Special Investigator Emil Almodiel and other immigration officers of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Membreve sued the immigration officials after he was prevented from leaving the country last March 28 with his family on a flight to Hong Kong when Immigration officials asked him to produce an "Allow Departure Order" or ADO, which would have permitted him to travel despite the standing Hold Departure Order (HDO) issued by the anti-graft court against him on August 7, 2017.
The HDO had been issued by the Sandiganbayan in the pending criminal case against Membreve, a former regional manager for Caraga of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA).
During the pendency of the criminal case, in trips to Japan previously, Membreve had obtained an ADO from the court to temporarily allow him to travel despite the HDO.
On his family's trip to Hong Kong, however, the BI main office did not process the ADO from the court in the immigration agency's computers due to a glitch.
The glitch arose from the representative of Membreve's failure to inform the BI that the petitioner also used the alias "Modeste", which had been in the BI's database aside from "Modesto".
Ruling against contempt, the court explained the immigration officials' "refusal to process the ADO application of the petitioners could not have been attended with malice, bad faith and gross negligence" since Membreve's representative merely applied for the issuance of the ADO in the name of Modesto G. Membreve and failed to inform that he is also using Modeste as an alias.
The court said had he also used the name 'Modeste' in filing for an ADO, the immigration official could have made the necessary verification under such name. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency