TWO deputy commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration on Tuesday admitted receiving P50 million in cash from Chinese casino tycoon Jack Lam, but claimed it was not a bribe but part of a ploy to investigate the Macau-based businessman.
Al Argosino and Michael Robles told reporters that P18 million of the P50 million went to Immigration intelligence chief Charles Calima while former police official Wally Sombero received P2 million.
“While Deputy Commissioners Argosino and Robles acknowledged receipt or custody of P48 million on 27 November 2016 with Wally Sombero getting P2 million as future evidence of corruption of public officials, the series of events that transpired showed a continuing link of corruption involving gambling magnate Jack Lam, his two interpreters Norman Ng and Alexander Yu and General Charles Calima, Argosino and Robles said in a statement.
They made the statement even as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Tuesday he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte Argosino and Robles’ the immediate relief for extortion.
“Because of the anti-corruption program of the government, it’s better that they be relieved,” Aguirre said.
“It will be the President who will act on this because it was the President who appointed them.”
He made the statement after Argosino and Robles were reportedly caught on video accepting money from Sombero, who was allegedly acting on behalf of Lam.
Argosino and Robles showed the cash they accepted on November 27 from Sombero, who allegedly arranged the release of the 1,200 Chinese nationals caught working illegally at the Fontana Leisure Park in Clark, Pampanga.
However, questions were raised why they kept quiet about the P50 million, which came in the open only after the supposed payoff was exposed in the newspapers.
The two lawyers claimed they kept the money as evidence but did not arrest Sombero and Calima because they had yet to prove their ties to Lam.
Argosino denied they pocketed the money. He said they wanted to use the money as evidence against Lam.
“We could have run away,” Argosino said.
“We could have made our early retirement when the minimum wage was less than P10,000 a month. You could just imagine the amount of money. I could not have gotten this in my retirement from the government.”
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