MANILA - A former staff member of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and two other former government officials have been outside the country since last year while 14 other accused in the pork barrel scam case remain unaccounted for, based on records of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
BI Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison disclosed that Pauleen Therese Mary Labayen flew out of the country before the Sandiganbayan issued the hold departure order (HDO) against each of the 54 personalities linked to the multi-billion peso scam.
It was learned that Labayen, Estrada's former appointments secretary, resigned in mid-July after she was implicated, among others, in the plunder and malversation of funds before the Office of the Ombudsman.
After Labayen resigned, Estrada offered her legal assistance. However, it turned out that the senator's aide instead left for abroad.
BI spokesperson Atty. Elaine Tan said initial verification on Labayen's departure yielded negative result because she had used a passport that bears the name "Pauline Therese Mary Labayen Cabico."
The Sandiganbayan issued the HDOs after the Office of the Ombudsman recently filed plunder and graft charges against the 54, including senators Estrada, Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Tan identified the other 14 accused whose records are not available as:
John Raymund de Asis, Napoles' employee;
Ronald John Lim, Napoles' nephew;
former National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) 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.
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 databank of the bureau or have no record of arrival or departure, Tan explained.
Tan earlier confirmed that former Technology Resource Center (TRC) director-general Antonio Ortiz and Renato Ornopia, who were also linked to the scam, skipped the country before the graft court issued the HDOs against them.