Officials bribed to let 70 illegal Chinese workers escape, Aguirre suspects

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 03 2016 09:34 PM | Updated as of Dec 04 2016 12:01 AM

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed Saturday that 70 of the 1,316 illegal Chinese workers arrested in Pampanga had escaped from government custody, raising suspicions that some officials were bribed to let them go.

Of the escapees, authorities managed to recapture 30 while one voluntarily returned. Twenty-six, however, remain unaccounted for, Aguirre said.

Asked how almost 70 Chinese nationals—who were guarded by over 100 Special Action Force troops—managed to escape, Aguirre cited the work of syndicates.

“Pinatakas yan ng mga sindikato… Kaya naman po nagkakalakas ng loob tumakas gawa-gawa din po yan sa loob,” Aguirre said in an interview on dzMM.

(They were allowed to escape by syndicates… They only have the guts to escape because it is also an inside job.)

He said he thinks police officers and Bureau of Immigration officials were bribed to let the illegal workers go.

“Malaking pera ang binitawan diyan. Mga P70 million agad ang binitawan diyan, maraming kumita diyan,” Aguirre said.

(A huge amount of money is being released there. Around P70 million has already been released there, many people are earning there.)

He explained that bribes range from P100,000 per head to about P250,000 per head.

“And mostly diyan sa Bureau of Immigration at sa mga pulis. Ang daming report sa akin eh na puro taga-Immigration ang culprit,” he said.

(Most of them are from the Bureau of Immigration and police officers. I have received many reports that the culprits are from the Bureau of Immigration.)

Aguirre, meanwhile, lauded the Chinese consul for cooperating with the Philippine government in the search for the Chinese escapees.

“Sinabihan niya yung leader nung mga arrested Chinese na andun pa na kontakin niya yung mga tumakas otherwise pag di sila bumalik they will be blacklisted by the Philippine government and by China,” he said.

(He told the leader of the arrested Chinese to contact the escapees and that if they do not return, they will be blacklisted by both the Philippine government and China.)

The 1,000 Chinese workers were apprehended during a Nov. 24 operation at an online gaming office in Fontana Leisure Park in Pampanga.

Aguirre, however, said about 1,000 more illegal Chinese nationals were tipped off or managed to escape the raid and currently remain at large.

He also said 600 of the arrested workers may soon be temporarily released on bail since a source whom Aguirre did not name allegedly promised to shoulder the expenses.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of Chinese gambling operator Jack Lam, who owns the online gaming office in Pampanga. Lam was also accused of attempting to bribe officials to free his men.