Luchie Mendoza Allen Paul Menoza Allen Rhony Laigo Atty bander set up in fake sex case and how he acquitted himself with honor and dignity
Atty. Bander Set Up in Fake Sex Case …And How He Acquitted Himselfwith Honor and DignityBy Rene Villaroman with PWD Investigative Team On July 13, 2006, Atty. Joel Bander was inManila providing immigration consultation services when he received an e-mail from Myrna AngTiu. The e-mail stated that she desired an immigration consultation for herself and seven (7)friends with similar issues. Bander had earlier advertised his consultation services in the LosAngeles editions of Asian Journal, which then and now is the largest Filipino-Americannewspaper, and where he was then serving as legal counsel.Based on a deposition made by Lotis Rosario, who was Bander’s legal assistant in Manila, alaw student at San Beda College, who has since passed the Philippine Bar and now serves aslaw clerk for the Philippines Court of Appeals, Ms. Tiu arrived a few days later with only one (1)client who called herself ‘Christina San Jose.’ Ms. Tiu paid for ‘San Jose’s’ consultation fee of$100.The meeting room was less than one meter away from the reception area. Ms. Rosario recalledthat during the meeting, she went into the consultation room to bring Mr Bander tea. “Nothingunusual was happening; it was an uneventful consultation, with Christina San Jose leaving theroom smiling, almost laughing.” Little did Bander and Rosario know at the time that ‘San Jose’was happy because she ‘thought’ she had made some quick money.Meanwhile, Myrna Tiu (this is her real name) then consulted with Atty. Bander about processingher immigration visa. She made another appointment to meet Bander the next day at the EDSAShangrila Hotel to pay the retainer fee. But she did not show up. Ms. Rosario recalled that whenshe called Ms. Tiu to inquire about her arrival, the latter was “shocked” to find out that the legalassistant was also in the meeting to accompany Atty Bander. Rosario thought the response wasodd.
At that point, Bander considered the matter closed and flew home to Los Angeles. Butunbeknownst to both he and Ms. Rosario a devious plan had been hatched to make up a sexualstory to malign his good reputation.Then, in the July 27, 2007 edition of Manila Standard, a news report that “sex charges” werefiled against ‘consular officer’ Joel Bander appeared, obviously paid for by people out to ruin hisreputation. That story was followed by another news story in the August 5, 2006 issue ofPeople’s Tonight, written by Allan Begornia, who called Bander a ‘trader’ and claiming thatcharges were filed in Branch 73 of the Taguig Trial Court. But the real, hard truth isthat there is no Branch 73 at the Taguig Court. And there was never any case in the TaguigTrial Court, even though Balita Media, through its obedient executive editor keeps repeating abaseless and non-existent ‘sexual assault’ case stories filed against Bander. The stories, bytheir inaccuracies, were total fabrications and assuredly paid for, as is the rampant practice insome less reputable newspapers in Manila and written by reporters with less than sterlingjournalism ethics.A Manila investigator for PinoyWatchDog.com who interviewed People’s Tonight reporter AllanBegornia, admitted, after a few shots of hard liquor, that he was paid about $200 to write the
Bander sex scandal story, and whoever it was that approached him to write the story reallyhated Bander with a passion. It was this highly trained investigator’s opinion that Begornia wasan alcoholic. After this brouhaha reached People’s Tonight management, the tabloid made aretraction and fired reporter Begornia.A few days after September 8, 2006, Ms. Rosario, Bander’s Manila legal assistant, received acall from someone professing to be Christina San Jose’s brother. He said that the articles in thenewspapers were all part of a plan to smear Joel Bander’s name in the Philippines and that thesource of this campaign came from the U.S. The caller further claimed that his ‘sister’ was notpaid, as promised, by this group. Hence ‘San Jose’ wanted to retract the false accusationsagainst Bander.“This is a set-up”:Amb. Raul Rabe“It was obvious this was a setup from the start,” said Ambassador Raul Rabe, who had workedwith Bander organizing and helping Filipino World War II veterans during the late 1990s, andhas remained Bander’s friend. “I wanted to help Atty. Bander, who did so much for war veteransover the years,” Rabe said. His law office in Manila initially undertook the legal representation ofBander, and developed an overwhelming case demonstrating that the complaint was a fraudand a set-up. However, even with his firm’s influence, the rampant corruption in the Philippineswon the day until the Aquino administration came into office and Bander was ultimatelyacquitted.His case was made even stronger when:* ‘San Jose’ provided a false address, an abandoned warehouse/factory space;* Ms. Rosario still had the receipt of the person identifying herself as ‘Christina San Jose’.However, the signature on the Complaint Sheet at the fiscal’s office was very different than theone on the receipt.Despite Balita’s repeated and malicious publication of this story without regards for responsible,truthful and ethical journalism, Bander had placed himself before the court in the fall of 2006 byrequesting a formal Reinvestigation, which the court granted. He appeared at the Manila fiscal’soffice, but the “fictitious” ‘San Jose’ did not appear. “I was amazed how pathetic the ManilaFiscal’s office looked,” recounted Bander. “They did not even have a phone or a computer attheir desks.”“Everyone Wanted a Bribe”Rabe’s law firm then filed a Petition for Review with the Philippine Department of Justice inOctober 2007, with Bander further placing himself within the structures of the Philippine Justicesystem, despite Rhony Laigo’s claim that Bander was “making a mockery of Philippine justicesystem.” After six months inquiries were made and a meeting was set up through the assistanceof a congressional office. “I was quite surprised to be meeting with about four (4) JusticeDepartment officials, and a couple of congressional aides,” Bander recalls. “Then the bigger guyshowed up. I think he was head of finance. We ate and talked about the case. I thankedeveryone, paid for the food and left. Afterwards, my then attorney, Lloyd Nonato, told me theseofficials wanted money too, about $3000. I was incensed, but continued to refuse to pay thesebribes.”
In the meantime, Balita’s executive editor, Rhony Laigo, was instructed by his bosses, AnthonyAllen and Luchie Mendoza-Allen, to fly to Manila and obtain a Hold Departure Order from theBureau of Immigration through the help of his friends and former colleagues at the Ninoy AquinoInternational Airport beat. After Laigo reportedly bribed his way to obtaining a Hold DepartureOrder, Bander’s lawyer, Lloyd Nonato obtained a personal appointment with the ImmigrationCommissioner on October 29, 2009. He described to the commissioner how the charges werefabricated and was a big hoax.The commissioner directed Nonato to his aides, who asked for $4000 to lift the HDO. “At thispoint,” Bander recalls, “I decided to wait for the end of the Arroyo administration, as I will not paybribes.”Aquino WinsIn August 2010, after Noynoy Aquino was elected president, Bander traveled to Manila, and withthe assistance of prominent attorney Sig Fortun the HDO was removed without the payment ofany bribes, and a few months later Bander was acquitted by the trial court. “I want to state,”Bander said, “that at no time did anyone from the court in any way ask for a bribe, nor didanyone even intimate that I should.” Joel Lucanan was the Manila Trial Court judge. “From myfew times in court, Judge Lucanan treated everyone with dignity and fairness, even though hewas just handling minor matters,” Bander added.Atty. Sig Fortun told PinoyWatchDog.com, “I represented Atty. Bander as a brethren who hashelped so many Filipinos. I did not want him to think that Filipino Justice is so corrupt.”However, corrupt elements of the Philippine American Media that only wish Attorney Banderharm continue to discuss this criminal case as if the underlying facts have any basis in truth, orthat Bander somehow was running from even a corrupt criminal justice system.