BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 25, 2017–Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber; president of the Senate, Lee Mark Chang, and chairman of the Senate Select Committee, Aldo Salazar, have all separately expressed their desire to see the hearings of the Senate Select Committee come to an end.
However, two key witnesses, Cabinet Secretary Carlos Perdomo and senior immigration officer Ady Pacheco, have not yet made their appearance before the committee, even though they were summoned to do so several weeks ago, on Wednesday, May 10 and 17.
While attention has been deflected from them, our newspaper today went looking for answers as to why they have not yet testified.
In the case of Carlos Perdomo, he was initially scheduled to appear before the committee on the same day that former Cabinet Minister Elvin Penner made his debut.
However, our sources have confirmed that he is currently in Los Angeles on vacation and will return to Belize in the first week of June, and will appear before the committee on Wednesday, June 7.
In her testimony to the Senate Select Committee, retired Immigration officer Therese Chavarria revealed that in 2011, Perdomo, a former UDP Cabinet Minister, had instructed that a passport be issued to an applicant who, according to all indications, was using a fraudulent birth certificate.
Chavarria told the committee that Justice of the Peace (JP), Reina Chiu Hsiang Lo, attempted to bribe her with $500 so that she would issue the passport to an applicant claiming to be Paul Ku.
However, Chavarria refused that bribe and put the application on hold until after she had returned from her vacation, but while on vacation, she said, Perdomo made his move.
There is no timeline, however, for senior Immigration officer Ady Pacheco to appear. Pacheco has been named multiple times by the Auditor General in connection with major irregularities at the Immigration Department.
The most damning allegation was in relation to the issuance of a Belizean nationality certificate to South Korean national Won Hon Kim while he was in a Taiwanese prison. Pacheco, at the time, was the counter supervisor at the Nationality Section of the Department.
More than three months ago, on February 1, she was scheduled to appear before the Senate Select Committee, but she had sent the Senators a statement claiming that she was pregnant and on bed rest.
However, our sources in the Immigration Department have revealed that she gave birth almost a month ago and was seen moving freely around Benque Viejo del Carmen.
We are told by Immigration sources that she will not be returning to the Immigration Department until August, when she will be transferred to the Corozal office.
When we asked Opposition Senator Eamon Courtenay to weigh in on the significant delay with Pacheco’s appearance, he opined, “We will wait, or go to her.”