FOOL me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Whoever thought up this old adage probably never had to deal with the Bureau of Immigration, which is making fools of us all the time, much to our eternal shame.
This week, a South Korean fugitive escaped from his cell in Camp Aguinaldo—the nerve center of the Defense Department and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Reports say Cho Seongdae, wanted for a number of crimes including human trafficking, prostitution, sex abuse, usurpation of authority, and extortion, was being held inside the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, where he was guarded by two agents from the Bureau of Immigration.
Military officials are uncertain how Cho managed to leave the ISAFP compound and exit through the tightly guarded gate. They, however, caught one of the Immigration guards with P100,000 cash on his person.
Astoundingly, this was the third time Cho managed to grease his way out of a pickle.
In 2012, he was arrested shortly after arriving in Manila, but was taken to hospital, allegedly for a medical condition, then escaped two weeks later. He was recaptured by Immigration agents in Parañaque City and taken to the bureau’s facility in Bicutan, Taguig City. There, Cho escaped again on Sept. 29 and was recaptured on Oct. 12 in Angeles City.
To prevent Cho from escaping, the Bureau of Immigration decided to hold him at the ISAFP compound. In hindsight, that might not have been such a good idea.
We are hardly surprised, however, that the Bureau of Immigration was involved.
Earlier this year, the same agency was embroiled in a bribery scandal when an alleged Chinese crime lord wanted by Beijing was said to have paid millions of pesos to high-ranking bureau officials to have the deportation order against him reversed. The fugitive was about to walk free when a whistleblower in the bureau caused the Justice Department to intervene and restore the original deportation order.
After a brief public outcry and a congressional investigation that led nowhere, Wang Bo was quietly deported back to China in August—with nary a word about what became of the millions of pesos that had been paid to top Immigration officials.
Why do we continue to tolerate such shenanigans at the bureau? Perhaps the old adage is correct, after all, and we should hide in shame for letting corrupt people like this fool us not just once or twice, but many times over.