Two committees can probe BI bribery scandal: Drilon

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2017 01:52 PM

MANILA - Sen. Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said both the Senate Civil Service Committee and the Blue Ribbon Committee can do separate investigations on the Bureau of Immigration bribery scandal. 

Drilon said the Civil Service Committee chaired by Sen. Antonio Trillanes will be conducting hearings on the BI with re-organization of the institution as its main purpose. 

"What we are interested in is to reorganize and see how we can execute reforms," said Drilon. 

The bribery scandal involves an alleged P50 million bribe offered by gaming tycoon Jack Lam to then immigration deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Mike Robles in exchange for the release of around 600 Chinese employees working in Lam's online gaming facility in Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.

Gordon is set to conduct a parallel hearing on the BI but focusing on the bribery scandal. "He is entitled, under the rules," said Drilon.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri and Trillanes nearly came to blows on Tuesday after the former questioned why Trillanes' committee should lead a probe into the possible reorganization of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the wake of the Jack Lam bribery scandal.

This led the feisty Trillanes to allege in media interviews that Zubiri and Senator Richard Gordon are out to “whitewash” the investigation.

Senate President Koko Pimentel called for a suspension of Tuesday's session and the senators proceeded to the Senate lounge for a closed-door meeting. 

After an hour, Zubiri and Trillanes shook hands to end their spat.