Immigration Chief's Search Order Upheld

Article excerpt

The Office of the Ombudsman has upheld the power of the commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to order searches of the cells and belongings of foreigners detained on charges of violating the country's immigration laws.

The Ombudsman issued the ruling in a decision disimissing criminal and graft charges filed against Rodriguez and several jail guards of the BI by a French national detained at the bureau's detention center in Bicutan, Taguig.

Rodriguez authorized the guards to conduct the search as the Frenchman was one of the detainees suspected of drinking contraband liquor inside their cells in violation of the rules and regulations of the detention center.

In his complaint, Lucien Tran Van Nghia said the search conducted by immigration jail guards in his cell on July 22, 1999, was illegal since the men were not armed with any search warrant from the court.

Nghia said the search violated his right to domicile and trespassed his dwelling, adding that the jail guards abused their authority for participating in an unlawful search and seizure.

But the Ombudsman said Nghia's complaints "do not merit any further proceedings and have to be dismissed outright. …