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Immigration chief quits over ‘events’

Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David has resigned from his post following the reports on the bureau’s failure to prevent the escape of some high-profile fugitives and its lax policies that allowed human traffickers to thrive and send people abroad illegally. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who has supervision over the bureau, named Siegfried Mison as its officer in charge while Malacañang searched for David’s replacement. Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino III had accepted David’s resignation over some “events” that transpired under his watch and which prompted him to hand in his resignation letter on July 12. “We would like to thank Commissioner David for his services to the country,” Valte said. “He felt it was but proper for him to take full responsibility for the events that transpired under his leadership.” David thanked the President for giving him the opportunity to serve the bureau. “The task assigned to me to cleanse the Bureau of corrupt and inefficient personnel has been very challenging and difficult,” David said in his letter. “Despite our determined efforts to hold liable and punish those involved in anomalous acts, several unfortunate incidents and controversies have taken place which undermined our anti-corruption campaign.” Sources at the bureau said David’s resignation had something to do with the escape from the Philippines of some high-profile fugitives,  including Korean national Kim Tae Dong who was wanted in South Korea for duping people and leaving the country with some $8 million. They said Kim gave at least $2 million to some Immigration officers in exchange for his departure from the Philippines for Korea, where he was eventually captured. Former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, the prime suspects in the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega, were also able to leave the country under David’s watch. The US Embassy also questioned David’s decision to continue detaining Walter Francis Groves, an American citizen, after a Makati regional trial court dismissed the estafa case against him. David said Groves could not be deported immediately because the estafa case had only been dismissed provisionally. And last year, President Aquino scolded Immigration officials during the bureau’s 72nd anniversary for sleeping on the job. With Joyce Pangco Pañares
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