Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa of the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said they want to arrest Jack Lam without a warrant and they can do so only if Lam returns to the country.
Without an arrest warrant, the PNP cannot work with its counterpart abroad to bring back Lam to the Philippines, dela Rosa explained before he attended a Senate inquiry into the drug trade.
“We will for him to return here… we will wait for him. We cannot coordinate [with]Hong Kong, Macau or Chinese enforcement agencies because until now there is no warrant of arrest that was issued against [Lam],” the PNP chief said in Filipino.
Lam’s name came to public attention after he allegedly tried to bribe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and Andrea Domingo, chief of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), to facilitate the release of at least 1,000 Chinese who were arrested last November 24.
The Chinese were arrested for their alleged involvement in an illegal online gambling operation at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga, supposedly owned by Lam.
Dela Rosa said the absence of a warrant of arrest against Lam prevents them from seeking help from the International Police Organization or Interpol to issue a red notice against Lam, who was ordered arrested over the weekend by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Based on the order of the President, gambling tycoon Lam is an economic saboteur, a continuing crime.
Dela Rosa said Lam will also be facing bribery charges.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has placed Lam on its watchlist.
The PNP chief earlier said the President also ordered Domingo to close all of Lam’s gambling operations.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) also on Monday issued a Lookout Bulletin Order (LBO) against Lam despite confirmation that he has left the country.
In the three-page LBO, Aguirre also ordered Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente to immediately implement the LBO against Lam, whose real name is Yin Lok Lam.
The BI is directed “to be on the lookout/alert for [Lam] should he pass through the immigration counters in any of our international ports and/or seaports.”
It said Lam left the country last November 29 via Cathay Pacific Airlines bound for Hong Kong.
Lam was accused of trying to bribe Domingo and he was able to leave the country even before the President had ordered his arrest.
This bribery attempt was made in connection with Lam’s plea to allow Fontana to continue its online gaming operations while applying for a license in exchange for one-percent commission from income of gaming operations.
Lam met with Aguirre on November 25, four days before flying to Hong Kong to discuss custodial arrangements for the 1,316 Chinese who were arrested for illegally working at Fontana.
The DOJ chief later said Lam’s group to tried to bribe him in exchange for protection for the Chinese who were arrested.
The BI has also ordered cancelation of Lam’s investor’s visa.
Aguirre said the DOJ “will be filing many cases” against Lam but he did not give details.
According to him, Lam can be legally arrested for economic sabotage and attempting to bribe a public official.
Dela Rosa was furnished a copy of the LBO, which also directs the Immigration bureau to coordinate with the PNP “to obtain additional information about the subject of this [LBO], in order to facilitate its enforcement.”
While an LBO is a “baby Hold Departure Order” since it is not issued by the courts, a foreigner like Lam is required to obtain an Emigration Clearance Certificate or ECC before he may be allowed to depart from the Philippines. JOMAR CANLAS