Former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino shed tears at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee as senators took turns wondering why he waited to meet with retired police general Wally Sombero for several long hours, if he had not intended to finish a transaction involving the receipt of a huge bribe money.
The lawmakers were referring to the meeting that started in City of Dreams in Parañaque City between former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles and Sombero.
The series of transactions began at 9:15 pm on November 26, 2016 and it stretched to 5 am of the following day, November 27.
Prior to this, also on November 26, 2016, Argosino was also present in a 5 pm meeting between business tycoon Jack Lam, Sombero and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre in Shangri-la at The Fort.
Sombero had allegedly tried to bribe Aguirre during the encounter.
In tears, Argosino said, “Pasensya na kayo. Sana naman po, pakinggan nyo ang ginagawa namin (I hope you will listen to what we are doing). This is about corruption of public officials. Wala pang nagpa-file ng kaso laban kay Jack Lam (no one has filed a case against Jack Lam).”
Senator Francis Escudero earlier tried to pressure Argosino to admit the real reason why the ex-BI official had engaged in such an activity which the lawmaker found highly unusual.
“What would make a person wait straight for 26 hours?! Hindi mo gagawin yun unless me ganito kang nalalaman, makukuha or may hinihintay (you won’t do that unless you know something, you would pick up something or you were waiting for something)!”
Escudero was alluding to his suspicion that Argosino was waiting to complete the P 50-million pay-off from Jack Lam, who was allegedly being represented by Sombero.
The pay-off was supposedly in exchange for the release of Lam’s over 1,300 illegal workers from jail.
Argosino kept denying that he demanded bribe money from Lam, through Sombero.
For his part, Robles repeatedly insisted, he was innocent in the deal, which the senators could not believe.
“Limited ang participation ko. I was just accompaying him (Argosino). Wala akong alam. I do not know Sombero,” Robles claimed.
Senator Manny Pacquiao pleaded to Argosino and Robles, “kung may takot kayo sa Diyos, huwag na kayong magsinungaling (if you have fear of God, stop lying)!”
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon was quite frustrated as he found the testimonies incredible.
He told the two former BI officials, “siyam na oras kayo doon. Hinihintay nyong dumating yung limang bag (you were there for 9 hours. You were waiting for the arrival of the five bags),” referring to the bribe money.