MANILA - The Bureau of Immigration has yet to impose sanctions on its spokesperson for publicly revealing that provisional state witness Ruby Tuason has left the country.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said BI spokesperson Maan Pedro's confirmation that Tuason had left the Philippines last March 2 was not sanctioned by the Department of Justice.
Mison confirmed there was some confusion about his orders, which led to the confirmation of Tuason's flight.
"Bottomline, it was just a simple phone inquiry and then she asked me if it is allowed. And then I said: 'What are the details?' And then I think there was some confusion or misinterpretation when I was asking what are the details of this travel and then it was already revealed to one person," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Pedro earlier said Tuason left the Philippines for Hong Kong at 6 p.m. on March 2 on board Cathay Pacific flight CX 902. She said Tuason has a return ticket dated April 5, 2014.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima later demanded why BI confirmed Tuason's departure.
Lawyer Dennis Manalo confirmed that Tuason had left the country but said her trip was cleared by the Witness Protection Program. He said Tuason needed to raise the P40 million she had promised to return to the government.
Mison said the bureau is imposing new protocols that would prevent a repeat of the incident. He also pointed out that the new spokesperson has only been in the position for four months while the new BI media head has been in the position for six months.
"My predecessor did not have that media relations or media unit so when I took over, that was the only time we set up shop and decided to put some procedures and protocol when it comes to press releases and statements," he said.
Asked if the spokesperson has been sanctioned, the immigration chief said: "Not yet. We are still again looking into what really happened or transpired during that day."
He also said the bureau can still go ahead with its routine announcements. "But if it will be somehow complicated and will touch on certain implications on the Department of Justice, then it would be prudent for me to confer with Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima first," he said.