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PIA Press Release
2006/11/24

Probe of 'freedom for a fee' racket under way

Quezon City (24 November) -- THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has summoned officials of the Bureau of Immigration to appear before a panel investigating a so-called "freedom for a fee" scam exposed earlier by Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers.

Immigration associate commissioners Teodoro Delarmente, Jose Cabochan and Roy Almoro, who Barbers linked to the alleged anomaly, have been told to appear before the DoJ panel of investigators on Friday morning.

The panel is composed of Justice undersecretaries Ernesto Pineda, Fidel Exconde Jr. and Macabangkit Lanto, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño and National Bureau of Investigation director Nestor Mantaring.

Earlier, Barbers said Zhang Du, a Chinese national, and Vo Van Duc, an American citizen of Vietnamese descent, were released by the Bureau of Immigration without clearance from either the court nor the police.

Zhang, alias Wilson Zhang, was arrested on September 27, 2001 on charges of kidnapping, a nonbailable offense.

Vo, on the other hand, was linked to an alleged terrorist plot to bomb foreign embassies in Thailand.

Barbers said Vo was ordered deported in an order signed by the three associate commissioners. He was escorted to the airport and allowed to board a plane out of the country the evening of May 21, 2005.

Zhang left the country on May 6, three weeks before Vo. The two dates fell on a Saturday. (PIA) [top]

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