5 in bribery scandal on lookout bulletin

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THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a lookout bulletin order against two Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioners and three other individuals in the Jack Lam bribery-extortion scandal.

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This came as Lam’s alleged go-between, retired police official Wally Sombero who was among those placed on the lookout list, filed graft cases against immigration officials.

Former police official Wally Sombero

Former police official Wally Sombero

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd on Friday placed immigration deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles on the lookout bulletin after they were accused of extorting P50 million from gaming tycoon Lam, to secure the release of Chinese workers arrested in an illegal online gaming operation at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Pampanga last month.

Aside from Argosino and Robles, also covered by the order were intelligence officials Charles Calima and Edward Chan, and Sombero.

The Manila Times has learned that Argosino and Robles resigned on Friday.

The order requires all immigration officials to inform the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation of any
attempt by the subjects to leave the Philippines, by forwarding details of their flight, itineraries and whereabouts.

A newspaper column on December 10 alleged that Argosino and Robles extorted money from Lam, through Sombero, in exchange for the release of 600 undocumented Chinese workers who were among those arrested at Fontana.

Argosino and Robles have admitted that they received P30 million from Sombero, but claimed they were going to use it as evidence of corruption.

The two went on a month-long leave of absence to give way to the investigation ordered by Aguirre as well as the parallel probe sought by Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

Argosino and Robles are fraternity brothers of Aguirre. The three, as well as President Duterte, belong to the Lex Talionis Fraternity of San Beda College of Law.

Aguirre has asked President Duterte to sack Argosino and Robles. “As I have said before, no stones unturned, no sacred cows in our ongoing war against corruption in the government,” Aguirre said.

Case a secret

Sombero on Friday filed a graft complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against Argosino and Robles.
Sombero’s camp said the complaint was for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, but told media they could not disclose details of the complaint “in view of our oath.”

Aguirre had accused Lam of attempting to bribe him through Argosino in a meeting at a Bonifacio Global City (BGC) hotel last November 26. Lam also allegedly attempted to bribe the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to grant him an online gaming permit.

In an interview after the complaint was filed, Sombero said: “Well, before the secretary arrived in BGC on November 26, we were there. Commissioner Argosino arrived and had an immediate demand. I was shocked again, but I didn’t mind … ‘How much are we going to earn?’ Something like that…but I did not expect that because the reason the Jack Lam group and Secretary Aguirre agreed to the meeting [was]because [it was]very clear, no financial consideration.”

Based on a CCTV footage, Sombero handed the money to Argosino and Robles.

The two immigration officials, who said they were framed up, had turned over P30 million to the DOJ. Argosino alleged that Sombero took P2 million.

But Sombero told reporters: “Argosino’s initial allegation was that the money was short when he counted it. But he did not give me money.”

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