MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday warned that forgers of bogus appointment papers of public officials bearing the president's signature and presidential seal face jail term of up to 20 years.

At a Laging Handa public briefing, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said investigators would leave no stone unturned in going after persons spreading bogus appointment papers.

He issued the warning as the National Bureau of Investigation and the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group have been tasked to probe the incident.

“May lumabas na isang pekeng dokumento. Nakalagay doon sa dokumento ang appointment kunwari ni Rodolfo Espejo Jr. as commissioner ng Bureau of Immigration (There is this document which says Rodolfo Espejo Jr. has been appointed). Although sa pagtingin ng mga officials natin doon sa Malacañang 'yung orginal ho ng dokumento wala ho sa PMS, sa OES at sa OP (When checked, the original document does not exist in the PMS (Presidential Management Staff), the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Office of the President),” Clavano said.

Citing Article 161 of the Revised Penal Code, Clavano said counterfeiting the president's seal is punishable with reclusion temporal or 12 to 20 years imprisonment.

“Delikado 'yung ganitong dokumento kasi it creates an atmosphere of confusion at dine-discredit 'yung reputasyon ng ating gobyerno (This is a serious offense because this document creates an atmosphere of confusion and discredits the reputation of the government),” Clavano said.

The NBI and the CIDG investigation will point to the source, the persons behind it and their intention, Clavano said.

He assured that media outlets that mistakenly reported the forged appointment as real will not be held liable.

Breakthroughs in probe

In a Palace briefing on Wednesday, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said there are breakthroughs in the investigation of the release of a “fake” document supposedly announcing the appointment of a new commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

"Meron naman po tayong breakthrough doon but we deem it na huwag munang ilabas (We already have a breakthrough but we can't disclose it yet) but there are breakthroughs already, we are able to identify 'yung mga nag-cause doon (who caused it). Ang hiling lamang natin ay kooperasyon ng mga iniimbestigahan (Our only request is that those who are under investigation cooperate) because can you just imagine, mismong opisina ng ating Presidente nangyayari yan (it happens within the Office of the President), so very alarming because the Office of the President should be respected, should be given with utmost courtesy," Azurin said.

He said they might be able to submit the report on the case within the next few days.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), meanwhile, has ordered an in-depth investigation to find the source of distribution and circulation of said document.

Babantayan namin ito hanggang matunton natin ang may kagagawan. We are also encouraging our friends from the media to join us (CIDG) in seeking the truth and to come forward if they have any knowledge about this incident (We will keep an eye on it until we track down the perpetrator. We are also encouraging our friends from the media to join us in seeking the truth and to come forward if they have any knowledge about this incident),” CIDG chief Brig. Gen. Ronald Lee said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Malacañang ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and PNP to investigate the release of the “fake” document.

The Palace earlier said no document for the position of BI chief has been issued by the Presidential Management Staff, Office of the Executive Secretary, or the Office of the President. (with Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)