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Duterte to seize Lam assets; blames Aquino

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte threatened on Saturday to sequester the assets of gambling tycoon Jack Lam and blamed deceased former President Corazon Aquino for issuing a license that allowed the Hong Kong mogul to cheat the government for so long.

“I’ll be sequestering all of his properties. All. Why? [Because] he cheated on us,” Duterte told journalists in Davao City upon his arrival from a state visit to Singapore early Saturday morning. 

GRATITUDE TO COUNTRYMEN. President Rodrigo Duterte thanks members of the Filipino community in Singapore during his visit—his first as President—at the Max Pavilion on Friday for their contribution to the Philippine economy.

“[Jack Lam] was parlaying a permit that was given him by Corazon Aquino. He was paying just one percent,’’ he said.

“P***** i**, maswerte ka [Son of a b*****, you’re lucky]. While all the others are paying 10 percent, [you only pay that much] all these years and when you talk in public it’s as if everybody in government is in your pocket,” Duterte added.

Duterte made the remark two days after Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairperson Andrea Domingo said the administration of former President Corazon Aquino granted Lam a perpetual license that covered Lam’s casinos in Laoag City and the Clark Freeport.

“That’s the license that he got, co-terminus with the life of Pagcor. So if [the corporate life of] Pagcor is extended and extended, the contracts are automatically extended,” Domingo said in an interview with radio station dzMM.

“Iyan lang ang may forever [That’s the only thing that lasts forever],” she added.

Domingo said Lam pays only a one percent tax for all junkets in Fontana resort—as opposed to the 10 percent paid by all other gaming operators—because he claims that he only gets gets 10 percent of earnings from foreign junkets in the casinos.

“Ten percent of 10 percent is 1 percent but it should be 10 percent of junket operations should go to Pagcor,” Domingo added. 

When Pagcor lawyers wanted to renegotiate Lam’s license, the mogul’s lawyers agreed only to increase  the tax to 7.5 percent but on the condition that junket gamblers, or the high rollers Lam brings in from abroad, also be allowed to bet in pesos.

Domingo said she disapproved the proposal because she knew as a lawyer that the Supreme Court ruling Lam’s lawyers were banking on was limited only to the manner of the earlier revocation of Lam’s contract and never ruled on the “perpetual license” granted to Lam.

Meanwhile, Duterte fired two of his fraternity brothers in the Lex Talionis of San Beda College of Law, Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who were accused of extorting P50 million from Lam for the release of illegal Chinese workers.

“I have directed the dismissal of the two deputy commissioners now tainted with corruption,” he said. “They will face the full force of the law.” 

Also dismissed from service was the bureau’s intelligence chief, retired police general Charles Calima.

“I give you my word: as president, I shall work tirelessly to assure all these [campaign] promises become a reality,” he added. 

“So that this is the warning to everybody: If you have proof that anyone in the government is asking money from you, report it to me immediately. I will protect you if you tell me the truth. But if you are corrupt yourself, I will not wait. You know I will not wait for the case to be filed,” he said.

Topics: President Rodrigo Duterte , Jack Lam , Corazon Aquino , Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation , Andrea Domingo , Aquino administration , Charles Calima , Lex Talionis , Al Argosino , Michael Robles , Chinese nationals
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