Cagayan economic zone chief submits to lifestyle check amid corruption allegations

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 29 2020 12:40 PM

From the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority Official Facebook Page

MANILA - The administrator and chief executive officer of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has submitted himself to a lifestyle check amid allegations of corruption, an anti-corruption agency said Saturday.

CEZA chief Raul Lambino on Friday manifested to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that he was willing to undergo such investigation, Commissioner Manuelito Luna said in a text message.

Lambino expressed his intent personally to PACC chairman Dante Jimenez, Luna said. It was also witnessed by the latter's chief of staff, retired Admiral Amable Tolentino, Luna added.

Broadcaster and newspaper columnist Ramon Tulfo Jr., the country's special envoy to China, earlier accused Lambino as "possibly among the most corrupt Cabinet-rank officials in the Duterte administration."

In his column for the daily broadsheet the Manila Times published on Feb. 20, Tulfo alleged that Lambino receives an estimated P5 million a week from gaming operations "through various schemes."

As administrator of CEZA, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), Lambino also reportedly charges investors $100,000 each for principal license and application fees, Tulfo said.

Citing reports from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), only $3,000 is recorded in the receipt, he said. 

Despite travel restrictions imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte on excessive or unnecessary trips, Lambino reportedly traveled using expensive chartered flights, Tulfo also alleged.

Lambino, who was appointed member of the President's Cabinet in July 2017, is the fourth secretary to undergo a voluntary lifestyle check.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones and Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat also underwent the same procedure.

Apart from his role in CEZA, Lambino was also appointed as the President’s adviser for Northern Luzon in June 2018.

He previously served as legal spokesperson of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.