MANILA — The Immigration personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) who reportedly escorted private plane passengers allegedly involved in human trafficking may be held liable for usurping public functions, Senator Francis ‘TOL’ N. Tolentino said on Monday.
Tolentino, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee made the remarks during the continuation of the upper chamber’s investigation in connection with the alleged human trafficking activity inside NAIA last February 13, wherein Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel Jeff Pinpin admitted to members of the panel that he was off duty when he escorted various foreign passengers into a private jet during that said date.
“The mere fact that you were relieved February 9 has nothing to do with your assertion of having an ongoing function which is violative of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code. Alam mo tawag doon? Usurpation of Public Functions,” said Tolentino.
During the previous inquiry, it was revealed that Pinpin was the so-called “mystery immigration officer” who escorted foreign passengers to the private flight even though he was off duty during the evening of February 13.
For his part, Pinpin stressed that he was still waiting to be properly relieved, the reason why he remained on his post even after February 9. But Tolentino dismissed the Immigration officer’s alibi, saying that he has no business inside NAIA after February 9.
“So na relieve ka? So inamin mo na relieved ka na, you now give discretion to the appointing designating authority kung sino yung kapalit mo, diba? Na relieved ka na, bakante na iyon, wala ka na dun. Hindi mo hihintayin na mag assume ka naman don sa papalitan mong bago, yung regional intelligence office, so walang–so kung naka float ka sa himpapawid ka, wala–it has nothing to do with your relief,” he added.
According to Tolentino, it is clear under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code that any person who falsely represent himself/herself to be an officer, agent, or representative of any department “who under the pretense of official position shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority shall suffer the penalty of prison correccional in its minimum and medium periods.”
“Knowingly, in-admit mo dito under oath–falsely… na ito na relieve ka na, eh wala ka nang authority. Pwede kang hingian ng papel. Authorized ka pa ba? Relieved na ho kayo, anong ginagawa mo dito?” the senator stressed.