NEW evidence provided by the Chinese Embassy shows that suspected crime lord Wang Bo, who was suspected of paying off immigration officials in exchange for his freedom, runs a syndicate with an illegal gambling network worth P91 billion—not P4.4 billion as earlier reported.
The embassy said the proceeds of Wang’s illegal gambling activities were brought into the Philippines to expand his illegal network.
The evidence prompted Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison to push for the reversal of the May 21 release order that would have freed Wang and restored his businessman status.
“The amount of money in this case is 13 billion yuan (or P91 billion). It is huge,” said the Chinese Embassy document submitted to the Bureau of Immigration and the Justice Department.
Mison accused Associate Commissioners Gilberto Repizo and Abdullah Mangotara of arranging Wang’s release after meeting with his representative.
Mison said shortly after the meeting, Repizo and Mangotara changed their tune and pushed to reverse the bureau’s March 5 deportation order.
Repizo and Mangotara denied meeting with Wang’s representative and ordering his release in exchange for money.
Repizo, a member of President Benigno Aquino III’s ruling Liberal Party, said his act was in support of the President’s position on the country’s territorial dispute with China.
“My act is a small gesture of support for the respect that… President Aquino is demanding insofar as our territorial boundary dispute [is concerned],” said Repizo in a May 27 memorandum to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima explaining his vote to release Wang.
De Lima intervened to stop Wang’s release on May 26 following a protest filed by the Chinese Embassy.
Allegations of a payoff—and that the money was used to convince lawmakers into voting for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)--are now the subject of a House investigation.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who filed the resolution, deputized Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the leader of the independent minority bloc, to represent him in the committee on good government and public accountability, which will carry out the investigation.
“Wang Bo was suspected of opening casinos and illegal business operations... [and] was listed as [a] fugitive by the Jiusan Nongken Public Security Bureau on May 26, 2014,” the Chinese Embassy said.
Mison said he was alarmed by the new evidence presented by the Chinese.
Wang’s lawyer, Dennis Manalo, said his client and the fugitive that the Chinese government is after are not the same person.
Manalo said Wang was a “successful businessman who has earned powerful social and political enemies” in China.
Sending Wang back to China would endanger his life, he added.
In a formal protest against the release order filed by the Chinese Embassy on May 22, Police Attache Fu Yufien submitted documentary evidence to show that Wang was a fugitive wanted by Interpol and the Chinese government for illegal gambling and money laundering. The embassy added that as an undocumented and undesirable alien with a cancelled passport, Wang posed a risk to the Philippines.
“Wang Bo, as the key player of the Skybet network gambling company, has returned to China many times for applying for bank cards with other Chinese people, such as Chen Dingson, Yan Rongsheng, etc.,” the Chinese Embassy document says under the title, “About the Suspect Wang Bo’s Crime on Opening Casino and Illegal Business Operation.”
The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Standard, showed Wang had “all the bank cards carried into the Philippines” for his gambling activities.
“His relatives (parents and sisters) also helped him apply for bank cards for the gambling fund flow of his company,” the embassy said.
“He commanded the people in China to transfer and launder the gambling funds. Wang Bo’s crime can be confirmed by many [pieces of] evidence, such as other suspects’ testimony, bank documents, bank transaction records, the dialogue records between Wang Bo and other suspects, among others,” the Chinese Embassy said.
Before the March 5 deportation order, Manalo filed a petition for bail for Wang.
“The records will show that (Wang) was merely reported to be a Chinese fugitive wanted for illegal gambling in China through a mere letter of Chinese police official (Fu), who did not even bother to provide the honorable commissioner with authenticated documents to prove that he is a fugitive, that a criminal case for illegal gambling is pending against him in China or that he is indeed the person wanted in China,” Manalo said.
Repizo used the same arguments and said China “overextended its authority.”
In a memo to De Lima, Repizo said Wang’s human and legal rights must be protected.
“He has been in the country since 2008 with a valid CEZA (Cagayan Export Zone Authority) visa up to May 2015. By the nature of his CEZA visa, he is legally exposed to online gambling. The assertion against him is that he operates a local casino in Manila with transnational operations. Competent proof of his illegal operation in the Philippines must be shown as well,” Repizo told De Lima.
“Aside from the technical issue of the validity of the unauthenticated supporting documents, my position is an assertion that the Chinese authorities must observe international practice in exerting their authority and must show compliance with our requirements. If they cannot deal with our embassy on authentication of documents, it is no surprise how they can conveniently ignore international agreements including the UNCLOS in our claims in the West Philippine Seas,” Repizo said.
“The Bureau of Immigration is exercising a delegated political function reposed upon the President of the country and to his alter ego the Secretary of Justice. It is my humble submission Madam Secretary that the Chinese authorities must not dictate the tenor of our disposition in this instance,” Repizo said.
But Mison said existing practice dictates that the bureau deal with the Chinese Embassy with a presumption of regularity, and that there was no need for authenticated documents if these were submitted by the embassy.
On May 26, Mison sought to reverse the May 21 release order but was outvoted by Repizo and Mangotara. He then elevated the issue to De Lima, who affirmed Mison and ordered that the March 5 deportation order be reinstated.
Wang remains under the custody of the Immigration Bureau.
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