Aguirre orders BI chief: Return P20M bribe from Jack Lam

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 21 2016 02:32 PM | Updated as of Dec 22 2016 12:19 PM

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is ordering Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to turn over a P20 million bribe given by two former immigration officials who had admitted receiving a P50 million bribe from gambling tycoon Jack Lam.

In his memorandum, Aguirre said the Bureau of Immigration chief must turn over the remaining P20 million to the Department of Justice or the National Bureau of Investigation within 24 hours "in order to preserve the evidence of such extortion activity."

This is following Morente's admission "that you authorized Gen. Charles T. Calima, the former acting intelligence chief of BI, to conduct a counter intelligence operation in connection [with] the alleged P50 million extortion purportedly committed by former Associate Commissioners Al C. Argosino and Michael B. Robles," the memorandum read.

Argosino and Robles earlier confirmed receiving a P50 million bribe from Lam for the release of over 1,300 supposedly undocumented workers arrested in Lam's online gambling casino.

The two, who are fraternity brothers of Duterte in San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas, Inc, said they kept the money as part of an investigation against the Macau-based businessman.

They also claimed that P2 million of the P50 million went to Wally Sombero, a former police official linked to Lam, while P18 million was allegedly given to former BI intelligence chief Charles Calima.

Duterte has fired the 2 commissioners as well as the BI intel chief.

CONFRONTATION

In an interview on radio DZMM Tuesday, Morente said he gave guidance to Calima to conduct counter intelligence on BI officers who were accepting bribes to free Chinese workers involved in illegal online gambling operations in Clark, Pampanga.

He said he received information from Calima last December 1 that the two deputy commissioners had received a bribe from Sombero.

He claimed Argosino and Robles had a confrontation with Calima in the BOI office last December 8 after news of the P50 million bribe started leaking out.

It was during this confrontation, Morente said, that Calima showed the video evidence of the two deputy commissioners receiving five paper bags reportedly containing P10 million each at a restaurant in a casino mall in Parañaque City last November 27.

"Pinakita ni General Calima yung kanyang ebidensya. Medyo natulala yung dalawang deputy commissioners, nagtanong kung ano ang pwede kong itulong. Ang sabi ko, hindi ko kayo pwedeng tulungan dyan. You have to be responsible for the consequence of your actions," he recalled.

He said that it was after the confrontation that the two officers allegedly gave a P20 million bribe to Calima and Sombero on December 9.

He said Calima is still holding the money, which will be used as evidence in the charges against Argosino and Robles.

"Ang intensyon niya ay makakuha ng concrete evidence na may hawak na pera yung dalawa. Nasa kanya po. Ang huling instruction ko sa kanya before siya na terminate, I think it was December 13, sabi ko sa kanya, you file the case and submit the report and then turn over the evidence to proper authorities," he said.

Asked why Calima was still fired despite performing a legitimate counter intelligence operation, Morente said: "That's out of my control. You will have to ask the DOJ."

"Whatever the result of the investigation, we will respect it."

He said he has talked to President Duterte on Tuesday and received new instructions about what to do with arrested Chinese workers working illegally in Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark Freeport Zone.

Aguirre earlier said he is considering the complete overhaul of the Bureau of Immigration following the P50-million bribery scandal.