SC rules for deportation of sugar magnate for being illegal alien

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has given the Bureau of Immigration (BI) the go signal to deport sugar magnate Jimmy Go alias Jaime Gaisano for being an illegal alien.

Go’s family ran the cash-strapped Noah’s Ark sugar refinery, which failed to settle a P900-million ($19.68-million) loan with the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) more than a decade ago.

Suits are currently pending between Noah’s Ark and UCPB and a syndicate of banks seeking to stop the foreclosure of its 3.9-hectare sugar refinery in Mandaluyong, across the prime real estate Rockwell property in Makati City.

In a 12-page decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, the SC Third Division denied the petition for review filed by Go. It sought to nullify the October 28, 2009, decision and the March 22, 2010, resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA). These rulings affirmed as final the April 17, 2002, decision of the BI ordering Go's apprehension and deportation.

Concurring with the ruling were associate justices Martin Villarama Jr, Bienvenido Reyes, and Francis Jardeleza.

BI is the agency that can best determine whether Go violated certain provisions of CA Number 613 (Philippine Immigration Act of 1940), as amended, the CA earlier ruled.

"In this jurisdiction, courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies," the CA said.

Controversial

The SC noted that there are factual issues that make Go's citizenship controversial and which must be resolved before the BI and not before the court, which is not a trier of facts.

Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr, who chairs the 3rd division, dissented from the majority opinion. Go should be allowed to prove his citizenship in another proceeding, he said.

Go's deportation was sought by his business associate Luis Ramos, former executive director of Noah's Ark.

In a complaint-affidavit filed before the BI, Ramos said while Go represents himself as a Filipino citizen, his birth certificate, issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Iloilo City, indicated his citizenship as “Chinese.”

"His father was born in the Philippines, as was petitioner. Yet, no deportation proceeding was ever commenced against the father, who is even closer to the only disputable Chinese immigrant in this saga," Velasco noted.

In its 2009 ruling, the CA affirmed the order issued by the Office of the President (OP), which upheld the April 17, 2002, resolution issued by the BI finding Go to be a Chinese citizen and ordered his deportation to China.

The CA junked Go’s appeal to the OP after it was filed two years after the BI issued such resolution, which has already attained finality.

The CA added the OP has no jurisdiction to entertain Go’s appeal in the first place since the decision of the BI had attained finality, owing to his failure to file a motion for reconsideration.

Under the revised rules for deportation proceedings, Go has 3 days from receipt of a copy of judgment to file a verified motion for reconsideration. – Rappler.com