'Pero kung mawala yun,....I'm going to resign'
MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II does not feel alluded to in President Duterte’s call for superiors of corrupt government officials and workers to resign.
The president made the pronouncement before Filipinos in Cambodia where he is on a state visit, amid an extortion/bribery scandal hounding the Bureau of Immigration (BI), an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and under the administrative supervision of Aguirre as justice chief.
“Corruption, it will stop. Wala ako patatawarin dyan. Maski kaibigan. It will stop. Sinabi ko talaga, maski kaming mga kaibigan, sabi ko, ‘pagka may nangyari dyan at under sa iyo, I’m sorry, maybe even you would have to resign,” Mr. Duterte said. Aguirre said he still feels that the president’s trust and confidence in him are intact.
“Pero kung mawala yun, kahit kaunting kaunti lang, hindi ako kapit-tuko sa pwesto, I’m going to resign.
“Walang problem sa akin to resign; I might even be happy. I will not lose a single night’s sleep kapag ako nawala sa pwesto ko,” he said.
Aguirre and Duterte are fraternity brothers at the San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas, Inc. Two other fraternity brothers, BI Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, figured in the scandal, as they were caught, via CCTV camera, receiving P50-million in cash from former cop Wally Sombero, a representative of embattled Chinese gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
The payoff was allegedly in exchange for the freedom of 600 arrested Chinese illegal workers at Lam’s Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
Aguirre has recommended the termination of the two immigration officials, whom he admitted are “very close” to him. The justice chief even endorsed the appointment of Argosino, whom he worked with during the presidential campaign as part of then candidate Duterte’s legal team.
The payoff took place at a restaurant in a casino mall in Parañaque
City last November 27, several hours after Aguirre met Lam, Argosino, and Sombero in Bonifacio Global City. It was Sombero who informed Aguirre of the payoff, claiming it was extortion on the part of the two BI officials.
Argosino and Robles did not inform Aguirre nor their immediate superior, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, about what they describe as an operation into alleged corruption activities at the bureau, but admitted receiving P50-million from Lam, through Sombero, when confronted by Aguirre about Sombero's claim.
Two immigration intelligence officers, Charles Calima and Edward Chan, were also sacked following the incident.
An investigation was ordered by the DOJ to get to the bottom of the incident. Charges will be filed against any of the personalities involved, if warranted.