The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to file charges for harborboring an illegal alien and for obstruction of justice against Davao de Oro Second District Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga, over the case of an overstaying Chinese national, according to reports and commentaries in radio stations in Davao City and Davao del Norte.
Gonzaga, a lawyer, reportedly caused the release of Chinese national Yuehui Li, on January 7, 2022 even as the overstaying alien was still being questioned by police over his immigration status, according to an incident report by the Nabunturan Police in Davao de Oro, according to the radio reports and commentaries.
The Chinese had gone into hiding after being taken into custory by Gonzaga but was arrested on March 4, 2022 in Panabo City in Davao del Norte in a joint operation by immigration agents and elements of the local police.
Also to face the same charges, according to the radio brodcast, are Odette Valmonte, live-in partner and interpreter of Li and former Mt. Diwata barangay captain Franco Tito, said Davao immigration agents involved in the arrest, but who begged anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
Valmonte was also arrested for helping Li in an escape attempt during the Chinaman’s arrest in Panabo City. Tito was with Gonzaga when the congressman took Li into his custody on Februay 7 in Nabunturan.
Li is now detained by the BI in Davao City while Valmonte is locked up at the Panabo Police detention cell.
Politics is seen as behind Gonzaga’s interest in Li, who was reported by radio broadcasters identified with the camp of Gonzaga, as having filed extortion and corruption charges with the Ombudsman against Davao de Oro former Governor now Provincial Board member Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy.
Uy has described the Ombudsman case as pure politicallly-motivated black propaganda,
Gonzaga, for the coming May 9 elections even as he is the Davao Region chair of the ruling PDP-Laban chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, has organized a hybrid slate with the opposition party Reporma chaired by former Duterte political ally turned foe and vocal critic Davao del Norte First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez against the Uy-led Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP) of presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Gonzaga has fielded his wife, former Court of Appeals associate justice Dorothy Gonzaga (Reporma) against comebacking former governor Uy (HNP) in the gubernatorial race; and Tito (Reporma) vs. Gov. Jayvee Tyron Uy, son of Chiongkee Uy, in the vice governor race. Gonzaga’s reelection is being challenged by former governor Jose Cabsllero (HNP) .
According to the Gonzaga propagandists in media, Uy reportedly demanded P1.5 million a month and gold shares from Li who is engaged in a desilting and dredging business that recovered gold dusts drained downstream into Naboc River from gold processing plants in the minesites of Davao de Oro.
Li was arrested by immigraton agents in Panabo City after a two-month manhunt for the overstaying Chinese.
Earlier on January 7, 2022, the Nabunturan Police responded to an anonymous informant who tipped police about the presence of a Mr. Li, a Chinese national in the residence of the Nacion family in Purok 3, Log Cabin, Barangay Bukal in Nabunuran.
Thereupon, OIC Police chief Capt. Janus Lumbaya Macliing organized a police team and proceeded to the area to verify the information.
Finding Li, Macliing asked the Chinese to present his immigration documents.
Instead of documents, Li showed to Macliing an image in his mobile phone of an application for working permit that he claimed is being proceesed by the Bureau of Immigration adding that the document is ready for him to pick up.
To verify Li’s claim with lack of internet signal in Barangay Bukal, Macliing went to nearby Barangay Mainit where he connected with the BI Davao District Office. But the Davao office could not provide information on Li’s actual status and referred him to BI National.
The central office also could not provide the information on Li as the officer concerned was not in the office. Given a phone number of the officer, Macliing left instructions through text to inform him of the status of Li.
Upon his return to Barangay Bukal, Macliing would see Rep. Gonzaga and Tito with Li.
The special report on the incident of the Nabunturan police quoted Gonzaga as asking Macliing what his business was with Li.
The police officer responded that they were merely verifying a report about an illegal alien in Barangay Bukal.
Having no information on the status of the Chinese that could warrant an arrest or invitation for further investigation, Macliing and his team left Barangay Bukal to return to the police office in Nabunturan, leaving Li with Gonzaga and Tito.
But when he arrived in Nabunturan, Macliing received a text message from BI national that Li is an overstaying alien as his permit has not been approved.
Thereupon Macliing and his team returned to Barangay Bukal to effect an arrest but Li, Gonzaga and Tito were gone.
Aside from being in the wanted list of the BI as an illegal alien, Li is said to be facing or still to face, four other legal troubles:
1. An estafa case filed by his co-investors in the gold dust recovery business for selling company equipment without authority
2. A carnapping rap for a rented vehicle that he did not return to the owner
3. A complaint of environment violation by Barangay Bukal against Li and his company
4. Libel complaints to include several radio broadcasters linked to Gonzaga, to be filed by the family of the late Dodong Sotto for linking the then manager of Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) as an aaccomplice in the allegation of extortion against the Uy purportedly filed with the Ombudsman.
Li’s days as a fugitive ended with his arrest in Panabo City on March 4, 2022.
Armed with Mission Order No. JHM-2022-027 issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, the Panabo Police led by Chief of Police Verna Cabuhat in joint operation with immigration agents collared Li and his live-in partner Odette who aided the Chinese in an aborted escape attempt by jumping out from the back wall of the house where they were traced by the police.