BI: Estrada ex-aide already out of country

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A CO-ACCUSED of Senator Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada in the plunder cases related to the pork barrel scam has been outside the country since last year, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Wednesday.

BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison said that Pauleen Therese Mary Labayen, Estrada's former deputy chief of staff, flew out of the country before the Sandiganbayan issued the hold departure order (HDO) last month against each of the 54 personalities linked to the multi-billion peso anomaly.

An initial verification on Labayen's departure yielded negative result because she had used a passport that bears the name "Pauline Therese Mary Labayen Cabico," according to BI spokesperson Elaine Tan.

Labayen resigned in mid-July last year after her name was dragged into the scam involving the diversion of lawmakers' Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-government organizations of businesswoman Janet Napoles.

Estrada allegedly offered Labayen legal assistance but she chose to go abroad, the BI said.

Tan also identified the other 14 accused whose records are not available: John Raymund de Asis, Napoles’ employee; Ronald John Lim, Napoles’ nephew; former National Agribusiness Corp. employees Margarita Guadinez, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson.

Also included are National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) employees Sofia Cruz, Fernando Ramirez; Dorilyn Fabian; Hernani Ditchon; Rodrigo Galay; Aileen Palama, Amparo Fernando, Myla Ogerio, Jesus Castillo, and Noel Macha.

Tan said the BI continues to double-check the identities and the whereabouts of the 14 accused as it is possible there are similar names in the data bank of the bureau or have no record of arrival or departure.

The BI earlier confirmed that former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director general Antonio Ortiz and Napoles' ex-employee Renato Ornopia, who were also linked to the scam, left the Philippines before the anti-graft court issued the HDOs against them. (Sunnex)

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