The Department of Justice (DOJ) has revealed that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has dismissed 45 personnel on orders of the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged administrative offenses and grave misconduct “prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”
“We have also received confirmation from the BI that they have received the said (Ombudsman) decision and the said 45 BI employees are no longer reporting for work… It appears that the BI has implemented the Ombudsman decision upon its receipt,” DOJ Assistant Secretary Neal Vincent Bainto said in a text message to reporters.
The DOJ official said the BI has been directed to explain to the DOJ how the Ombudsman’s decision was implemented.
Bainto said it would most likely be just a memorandum from the personnel division or an order from BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
“On the part of the DOJ, we will also send a Memorandum to the BI, through the Commissioner, directing them to ensure the proper implementation of both the DOJ Resolution and the Ombudsman Decision,” he stressed.
It may be recalled that last June 10, the DOJ released a resolution finding 18 of the BI officers and personnel administratively liable for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, in connection with the so-called Pastillas scam.
The 18 BI employees mentioned in the DOJ Resolution were also among the 45 employees ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman.
Bainto pointed out that their dismissal carries the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, cancellation of eligibility, bar from taking Civil Service examinations, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
“As for the forfeiture of benefits, this pertains to the possible benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). I’m still confirming if there are other retirement benefits peculiar only to BI. However, Terminal Leave Benefits and personal contributions to the GSIS are not subject to forfeiture,” he said.
“In case a respondent is exonerated on Motion for Reconsideration or on appeal, he shall be reinstated with payment of backwages and all benefits,” he added.
The Ombudsman earlier said that in case the penalty of dismissal can no longer be served due to the respondents’ separation from the bureau, a fine equivalent to their salary for one year shall be imposed.
Among those dismissed from the service were senior Immigration officers Grifton Medina, Erwin Ortanez and Glen Comia.
But the Ombudsman dismissed “for lack of jurisdiction” the administrative charges against BI Port Operations Division Deputy Commissioner Marc Red Marinas, who resigned from the bureau in 2018 to run for mayor in Muntinlupa City in 2019, but lost in the elections.
Records showed that erring BI officials allegedly facilitated the entry of 143 foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, into the country from 2017 to 2020 without going through Immigration procedures.
The Ombudsman said the foreigners were allowed to pass through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1 and 2 and in return paid P10,000 each.
The bribe money were reportedly rolled in white paper, similar to the appearance of a local milk candy called pastillas.
The DOJ said efforts to cleanse the ranks of the immigration bureau continue after the dismissal from service of 18 personnel tagged in the “pastillas” scam.