Manila. December 26, 2012. At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Australian residents Melly Jackson and her mother Flora Ricablanca were returning to Sydney but their departure clearance could not be released because of her mom’s expired visa. Immigration Officer Joel P. Escobar declared Mrs. Ricablanca as “overstaying” and demanded for her old [Philippine] passport which was not with her anymore as it had already been replaced with a new one.
Officer Escobar then asked his lady companion to compute how much her mother had to pay. The other immigration officer in an adjacent counter declared that the overstaying penalty was more than PHP19,000.
Feeling distressed, Ms. Jackson, suspected that the money being asked was padded and unreasonable. She then tried to negotiate for a lower fee. The amount went down to PHP18,000, then to PHP13,000, to PHP10,000, and finally to PHP7,000 to which she agreed.
Escobar warned Ms. Jackson not to expose the money openly so that it would not be caught by the security camera. She became even more suspicious but did not bother to check the amount on the receipt which was issued together with the Certificate of Release.
Ms. Jackson and her mother were already on board the aircraft when she noticed that the amount on the receipt was only PHP710 or the equivalent of AUD17. Clearly, Immigration Officer Escobar pocketed the difference.
In her email, Ms. Jackson wrote that another passenger Vena Yap paid PHP 15,000 for overstaying.