A GROUP of commuters and road users on Monday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and officials of the Clark Development Corp. in connection with the online gambling operations in Clark Freeport in Pampanga.
Ray Junia, chairman of the Road Users Protection Advocates (RUPA), said it was during Tugade’s term as CDC head when Jack Lam, one of the biggest gambling moguls in Asia, saw his operations inside the Fontana Leisure and Casino Hotel flourish.
“We call on the President to investigate Tugade and other CDC officials. This illegal operation would not have happened without the approval, silent or otherwise, of Tugade and his team at the CDC,” he said.
Junia said if Lam was brazen enough to try to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for the release of 1,316 Chinese nationals working at the online gaming facility in Fontana, he could only imagine what perks may have gone Tugade’s way for the CDC to turn a blind eye on the illegal activity.
“Logic dictates that it was impossible for the CDC not to have noticed a crime was being committed right under their noses,” Junia added.
Duterte has already ordered Lam’s arrest after his alleged attempt to bribe Aguirre and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chairperson Andrea Domingo.
Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said he had already asked Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to issue an Immigration lookout bulletin order against Lam.
The Hong Kong-based Lam is the chairman of the Jimei Group, one of the biggest gambling junket operators in Asia.
Through his lawyer Raymond Fortun, Lam admitted he met with Aguirre but denied the charges of bribery.
RUPA is also pushing for the ouster of Tugade from the Department of Transportation.
The group said that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have “said in so many words that Tugade is not fit to head” the department. It added the powerful Commission on Appointments must stand firm on its earlier decision not to confirm Tugade as Transportation chief despite his reappointment.
RUPA earlier wrote the Commission on Appointments to register their opposition to Tugade’s appointment, scoring the secretary for his “incredible and fantastic solutions” such as his plan to install cable cars over the length of Laguna de Bay as well as to transform the Metro Railway Transit Line 2 into a Bus Rapid Transit.
Aguirre also ordered a lookout bulletin on Lam.
“Considering the offenses allegedly committed and apparent reports that he has already left the country, there is a strong possibility that he may attempt to place himself beyond the reach of the legal processes of this government by leaving the country,” Aguirre said in an order to Morente.
“We, thus, deem the issuance of an immigration lookout bulletin order against him prudent in order to at least monitor the itineraries of their flight, travel and or whereabouts, or if warranted, effectuate his immediate arrest pursuant to the directives of the President should the subject return to the country,” Aguirre added.
The lookout bulletin directs all immigration officers to be on the lookout for Lam should he pass through any of the country’s international ports and seaports as well as to forward any report or information to the Justice Department or the Philippine National Police that the subject of the order is attempting to leave the country.
The agency is also required to coordinate with airlines that operate international flights.
Aguirre also directed Morente to require Lam to obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate before he can be allowed to leave the country and also for the BI to coordinate with the Justice Department and the PNP to obtain additional information about the Chinese tycoon.
Immigration records show Lam left the country on Nov. 29, four days after 1, 316 Chinese nationals were arrested by the authorities in the online gaming facilities operating in Fontana without the necessary documents from Pagcor.
ILBO is different from a court-issued hold departure order since the former only directs the Bureau of Immigration to be on the lookout for the subject and to verify the status of a case against the subject person and not to restrict an individual from leaving the country.
At least 26 Chinese nationals who were among the 57 foreigners that escaped from their detention facility in Clark, Pampanga, were still missing and now the object of a manhunt.
The BI said that the 27 were among the more than 1,260 Chinese workers arrested in the raid of an illegal online gambling operations in Fontana Villa, Clark, Pampanga, last week. Fifty-seven of them managed to escape but the BI rearrested 31 inside the villas in Clark.
The owner and operator of Club Fontana casino, Lam, is now included in the bureau’s Black List Order. Lam, whose real name is Lam Yi Lok, reportedly left for Hong Kong aboard a Cathay Pacific airline last Nov. 29, Immigration spokeswomann Antonette Mangrobang said.
The bureau also denied allegations that the rearrested Chinese workers were intentionally allowed to escape in exchange for bribes.
Liang Kun, with the aid of interpreter, told BI officials that he left their holding facility at the Fontana convention center because he just wanted to go outside, take a shower and rest in the villa where he lived while working at the casino.
Kun also denied that he bribed his way to freedom or gave money to anyone to facilitate his escape.
He added that he had no other companion in the villa except the household workers.
When asked if he knew the whereabouts of the 26 other escapees who are still at large, he said no. With Rey E. Requejo and Vito Barcelo
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