Suselbeck charged with ‘gross arrogance, disrespect’

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude’s German boyfriend was charged yesterday with gross arrogance and serious disrespect to Filipino authorities before the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

However, Marc Suselbeck did not appear before the BI Legal Department to answer the charges.

Lawyers representing him made an entry of appearance and left their addresses.

BI spokesman Elaine Tan said lawyers Romel Bagares and Ethel Avisado of the Roque and Butuyan Law office went to the BI head office in Intramuros, Manila at around 11 a.m. yesterday.

“They requested that if the Board of Special Inquiry (BSI) would have future directives or orders, they should send it to them,” she said.

The Legal Department would endorse the case to the BSI headed by lawyer Vicente Uncad.

Suselbeck was seen in Olongapo attending the preliminary investigation on the murder case against US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

His lawyers have yet to submit their counter-memorandum in the deportation case against him before the BI, even as the BSI has yet to schedule a date for the hearing.

Suselbeck was charged with being an undesirable alien based on Article 2711, Section 69 of the regulations on undesirability.

He was accused of showing gross arrogance and serious disrespect to Filipino authorities, specifically the Armed Forces, when he forcibly entered an off-limits area in Camp Aguinaldo and shoved a Filipino military guard.

BI Special Prosecutor Homer Arellano said Suselbeck’s presence in the Philippines poses a risk to public interest.

The BI issued the charge sheet based on a complaint from the Armed Forces last Friday.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. asked Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison for a formal investigation on the misdemeanor and/or unlawful conduct of Suselbeck.

“His actions do not speak well of a visitor that ought to be embraced by the host, but his demeanor deserves his immediate expulsion from the country,” read the complaint.

Mison said Suselbeck has to answer the charges of undesirability against him, and that he would be given enough time to submit his memorandum.

Suselbeck has no prescribed time to give his answer, he added.

“But the standard number of days is 30 and not more than 30 days,” he said. “Within 30 days he has to submit but it still depends on his lawyers and our special prosecutors if they would agree on three days or five days, so that we could fast-track the procedure.”

Mison urged Suselbeck to participate in the hearings and make use of the opportunity to clear his name. “It would be the time for him to say that he is not an undesirable (alien), it is an opportunity for him to defend himself,” he said.

Mison said that if the deportation case against Suselbeck would be affirmed, he would automatically be blacklisted and not allowed to return to the Philippines.

“Once he is blacklisted, we have a process… there is a prescriptive period when he could file for a lifting of his being blacklisted, but that would depend on the grounds used to blacklist him,” he said. “In his case, I am not sure, but it is more than a year because he could go back and file a petition for lifting of the blacklist. I am not sure if it is 5 years or 10 years.”

Mison said he is not sure if Suselbeck’s apology to the military could pave the way for the dismissal of the deportation case against him. “I am sure it would be taken into consideration by our Board of Special Inquiry,” he said.

Mison said Suselbeck need not appear personally in the deportation hearings. “This is not a formal hearing… What we do here at the bureau is based on written memoranda only.”

The BI has not yet formally informed the German embassy about the charges filed against Suselbeck.

Why Suselbeck was stopped from leaving

Malacañang said Suselbeck was stopped from flying home to Germany to allow him to defend himself from charges of being an undesirable alien.

Speaking to reporters, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government would like to give due process to Suselbeck so he could answer the complaint that the Armed Forces had filed against him.

“We have to follow our process,” he said. “So my understanding right now is that the lawyers of Mr. Suselbeck – represented by Mr. Harry Roque and his law firm – are in the BI to receive the copy of the charge sheet.”

Lacierda said the government is following a process applicable to all foreigners facing charges in the Philippines.

“It’s up to the lawyers to abbreviate the process,” he said.

Lacierda said Mison wants Suselbeck to have due process when he faces the BSI.

“We cannot just allow him to leave and he would later learn that he has been blacklisted,” he said.

“What if he returns to grieve the death of Jennifer Laude? So, Commissioner Mison said we should accord him due process.”

Why Suselbeck’s passport was seized

De Lima said the BI had to confiscate Suselbeck’s passport as he would face deportation proceedings for being an undesirable alien.

“While deportation is supposed to be a summary procedure, we are giving him due process,” he said.

“If we allowed him to just leave, we would not be able to determine if he is really an undesirable alien or not.”

De Lima said a finding that Suselbeck is an undesirable alien could lead to his inclusion in the BI’s blacklist.

“Once he is placed in the blacklist, he would not be able to enter the country – unless he files a motion or petition for lifting of the blacklist order,” she said.

De Lima said the BI initiated the deportation proceedings against Suselbeck upon request of the Armed Forces.

“It’s not just a matter of apology,” she said. “It’s really about upholding the rule of law, upholding our integrity and pride as a nation.”

De Lima said foreigners entering the country would be held liable for violating Philippine law or doing anything to displease the government and the Filipino people.

Suselbeck’s actions at Camp Aguinaldo could be a basis for his deportation and could constitute criminal offenses like assault, alarm and scandal, assault or grave coercion, De Lima said.

Shoved soldier honored

T/Sgt. Mariano Pamittan was awarded yesterday a plaque of recognition for showing restraint when Suselbeck shoved him while guarding the place of detention of the US Marine accused of killing Laude.

He was cited for displaying “professionalism and exemplary composure under pressure.”

Catapang led the awarding ceremony to honor Pamittan, who is part of the General Headquarters-Headquarters Support Command. – With Delon Porcalla, Edu Punay, Alexis Romero, Rudy Santos


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