Ang claims P60m, not P50m, paid for release of workers
BUSINESSMAN Charlie “Atong” Ang, a business partner of gaming mogul Jack Lam, has said a total P60 million, and not P50 million, had been paid for the release of over 1,000 undocumented Chinese workers at Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Pampanga.
Testifying for the first time at the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the P50-million bribery at the Bureau of Immigration, Ang revealed former BI Associate Commissioner Al Argosino and Michael Robles demanded P100 million but P60 million had only been released through former police official Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero Jr.
He complained before the committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon that P60 million was already released to Sombero, but still no release was made.
“Sir, P60 [million] or P50 [million]?” Senator Francis Escudero asked.
“They gave P50 million and then, they asked [for] another P50 [million], saying it’s lacking. It was a Sunday then, so they can’t be released [the additional P50 million]. So Mr. Sombero got only P10 million. They went to Fontana, they checked but no releases yet,” he added.
Ang said the two former immigration officials told him the initial P50 million was not enough to bail out the Chinese workers, so they were asking for another P50 million.
The former police officer handed the P50 million to Argosino and Robles during a meeting at a restaurant in the City of Dreams in Parañaque City last Nov. 27.
Alex Yu, a representative of Lam, told the hearing he gave Sombero the additional P10 million.
Sombero admitted receiving the money at 11 p.m. of Nov. 26 or before he met with Argosino and Robles.
He said he would give it to the former immigration officials as part of the P50-million balance.
But Sombero said he changed his mind and later told Yu to first hold the P10 million since the Chinese workers have not yet been released.
Sombero said he was told by Yu to keep the money as they could use it for legal fees to be needed for the release of Lam’s workers.
When Escudero asked if the money was with him, Sombero answered it’s still intact. He noted he did not intentionally keep the P10 million.
Ang also divulged the arrested Chinese workers were being asked to pay up to P3 million just to get back their passports.
He also sought the help of the senators and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for the workers of Next Games Outsourcing Inc. who, he said, were being demanded to pay from P150,000 to P3 million to repossess their passports.
“I would also ask the help of the [Justice] Secretary and the Immigration. Those arrested from us, in the Next Games, they were being asked P150,000 to P3 million to get back their passports,” said Ang, who was a co-accussed of former President Joseph Estrada in an earlier plunder case.
“They confiscated so many passports; there were 600 which they want to be redeemed…The corruption is taking place in the lower level of the bureau. That’s the problem. We are asking for your help,” he said.
Before Gordon wrapped up the nearly nine-hour hearing, he raised the possibility if Lam could come over to the Philippines.
Raymund Fortun, a lawyer of Lam, said the gaming tycoon had no plan of coming back to the Philippines.