PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he will allow Chinese gambling operator Jack Lam to return to the Philippines if he vows to pay taxes correctly and stop bribing government officials.
Duterte, who was in Legazpi City, said Lam must renegotiate his contract for online gaming operations at Clark free port’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, which had been ordered shut after a November 24 raid that led to the arrest of 1,000 illegal Chinese workers.
“Jack Lam has sent feelers that he would like to come back. One, because he takes pity of 6,000-plus Filipinos who will lose their jobs. Second is that he will settle his obligations,” the President said in a chance interview at the groundbreaking ceremony for the planned Bicol International Airport in Legazpi City.
“Okay lang sa akin [It’s okay with me] because he has offered to come back, pay his tax, liabilities, whatever it is. Sabi ko [I said], on the condition that he lets go of the original contract that lets him to enjoy only 1 percent … Just pay taxes [and]don’t bribe anybody,” he added.
On Saturday, the President ordered the Macau-based tycoon arrested for bribery and economic sabotage. But Lam left the country on November 29 on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, according to the Bureau of Immigration.
Lam is accused of attempting to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd to free the arrested Chinese nationals, as well as Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Andrea Domingo to legalize his operations at Fontana.
Aguirre had said there was no need for an arrest warrant against Lam as economic sabotage was a “continuing offense.”
Director General Ronald de la Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police, said Thursday talks were underway for Lam’s surrender but there was no date yet for his return.
The Bureau of Immigration has placed Lam in its “blacklist order,” which effectively bars him from entering the country again.
“He can only enter the country if the secretary of Justice orders the removal of his name from the blacklist order or he can file a formal petition, through his lawyer, with the [bureau]for the lifting of his name from the list,”
Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, bureau spokeswoman, told The Manila Times.
She said Lam’s foreign investor’s visa had been cancelled.
Mangrobang said that of around 1,300 Chinese arrested at Fontana, more than 600 have been released after their petitions for bail were approved by the bureau’s Board of Commissioners.
“There are still more than 700 left in detention [at the Fontana Convention Center]. Some of them have also pending petitions for bail but not as a big group,” she said.