MANILA, Philippines - Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima apologized on Friday to former First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo over the Bureau of Immigration's (BI) spelling error that resulted in the agency's failure to find him in its records.
The bureau told de Lima Thursday that it has no record of Arroyo leaving for Hong Kong.
It left the DOJ chief wondering if the husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used a chartered plane to leave the country.
"Nakapagtataka, wala sya sa BI database.Ang ibig sabihin, di dumaan, apparently, sa immigration. Somebody else facilitated the processing of the documents kaya nagkaganoon," she said.
It drew a response from Arroyo's lawyer, Inocencio Ferrer, who presented the former First Gentleman's passport, baggage tag, travel tax and terminal fee receipts, and a certification from Cathay Pacific to prove that he had records of departure from Manila for Hong Kong last Sunday.
Ferrer also asked de Lima to apologize.
The DOJ chief said upon second look, it was discovered that the former First Gentleman's surname, Arroyo, was spelled as "Aroyo" in his immigration departure record.
It resulted in Arroyo's name failing to surface in a subsequent search of bureau records.
"[I] Just verified from BI that indeed FG (Arroyo) went through the immigration counter," de Lima said.
She also said sorry to Arroyo.
"I humbly apologize in behalf of BI for apparently giving me an erroneous info and/or for committing certain lapses. In any case, I still want to know from BI the true cause for the wrong info," she said in a text message to ABS-CBN News. - report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News