FORMER Bureau of Immigration (BI) acting intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr. on Thursday filed a plunder and graft complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against former BI associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, for allegedly extorting money from Macau businessman Jack Lam.
In his 16-page complaint, Calima accused Argosino and Robles of dragging other officials into the bribery-extortion mess when it was really “just for their own benefit, as shown by the equal sharing which they did to the money.”
All three had been ordered sacked by the President.
The money from Lam, P50 million, was supposed to be in exchange for the release of 600 individuals who were among the 1,316 Chinese nationals arrested by authorities in Clark, Pampanga last November 24 for supposedly working without permits in Lam’s online casino.
Calima’s complaint claimed that on the evening of November 25, retired policeman Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero reported to him over the phone that some immigration officials were asking for money in connection with the arrest of the Chinese nationals.
Calima then told Sombero in a text message that he was interested to find out the persons’ identities “because I wanted to entrap them.”
Argosino and Robles have admitted receiving P30 million but claimed they kept the money as evidence of corruption.
The two former immigration officials, who also claimed they were framed up, have turned over P30 million to the Department of Justice (DOJ). They alleged that P2 million went to Sombero as Lam’s go-between and P18 million to Calima.
Sombero has said that the P2 million was meant to pay for legal assistance for the arrested Chinese nationals.
Police ordered to turn over P18M to DOJ
Also on Thursday, the DOJ ordered the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to turn over to the department the P18 million surrendered by Calima.
In a letter to Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, director of the CIDG, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd ordered the police group to gather “all documents and evidence” submitted by Calima as well as its investigation results.
Aguirre said the explanation of BI Commissioner Jaime Morente was unacceptable, after the latter stated in a report on Thursday it was no longer possible for the bureau to comply with the DOJ chief’s order to turn over to the department part of the P50 million given by Lam.
Morente told Aguirre he lost jurisdiction over Calima when the latter was terminated last December 13 after figuring in the scandal.
“In response to your directive, may I respectfully inform you that General Calima has been terminated…[t]hus, I have no jurisdiction over him. However, General Calima has apprised me that he has filed a complaint…for plunder against the two associate commissioners,” Morente said.
“Together with his filing, he turned over the two paper bags to the said office, which after accounting, revealed the amount of P18 million. The custody over the evidence is with the CIDG hence the undersigned could no longer turn over the same to the Honorable Secretary,” he added.
Aguirre’s directive to return the money was brought about by Morente’s own disclosure that he gave Calima his blessings in conducting counter-intelligence activities against the two former immigration officials.
Morente and Calima are members of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981.
Argosino and Robles were caught on closed-circuit television cameras receiving the alleged P50-million bribe money from Sombero at the City of Dreams Hotel and Casino last November 27.