PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he had ordered the seizure of all assets of online gambling operator Jack Lam, whom he accused of cheating on taxes.
“I’ll be sequestering all of his properties. Lahat [All]. Why? He cheated on us,” the President said in a news conference following his arrival in Davao City from trips to Cambodia and Singapore.
While acknowledging that Lam paid taxes on bets from local gamblers, Duterte said no taxes had been paid for online bets from other countries.
“And maybe, I can get as much as I want because, well, [Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar] Dulay and everybody says that we’ve been cheated on for so long,” he said.
Duterte explained that Lam’s gaming operations at Clark free port in Pampanga were using a permit issued by the late president Corazon Aquino.
The President repeated his earlier order to arrest Lam, even without a case filed, and said the Macau-based businessman would be detained in the smelliest precinct.
“The way he talks it’s like all officials there are in his pocket, because he was into corruption. I got pissed off, and I said arrest him. And they say there’s no case, never mind…we will find a case and I’m just sorry that he was able to leave the country pala three days before,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Duterte ordered Lam’s arrest after immigration agents arrested more than a thousand Chinese nationals suspected of working illegally for Lam’s gaming operation at the Fontana resort in Clark free port last November 24. Lam left the country five days later.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd claimed Lam and an intermediary, retired police official Wally Sombero, tried to bribe him and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chief Andrea Domingo.
Immigration execs sacked
The scandal worsened after associate immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles were accused of extorting P50 million from Lam for the release of the Chinese arrested in Clark.
Duterte ordered the two as well as acting immigration intelligence chief Charles Calima dismissed.
“Consistent with this electoral campaign, I have directed the dismissal of the two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration who are now tainted with corruption. They will be held accountable for their actions. They will face the full force of the law,” the President said.
“They are my fraternity brothers, if you must know. They’re from San Beda and they are my fraternity brothers. But I told [Special Assistant Christopher] Bong Go, tell them to resign. You’re fired,” he added.
Argosino and Robles are fraternity brothers of President Duterte in San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas, Inc.
The two announced their resignation on Friday night, just hours after graft cases were filed against them before the Ombudsman by Sombero, Lam’s associate.
Duterte said: “If you are into corruption, go out of business for a while. Anyway I’ll only be here for six years. After that, you can have your way again.”