De Lima on BBL payola: Simply foolish talk
ALLEGATIONS that money from a Chinese fugitive was used to bribe lawmakers in exchange for supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is nothing more than an idle talk, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday after meeting with senior Immigration officials.
De Lima said her initial impression is that the rulings handed down by the Bureau of Immigration in favor of Wang Bo were grounded on factual basis.
“While the insinuations are serious, there is no firm, solid or concrete basis to make such a supposition that money probably changed hands,” de Lima said.
She added that the commissioners raised a number of valid grounds in turning down the request People’s Republic of China for Wang’s repatriation to Beijing supposedly to face a criminal indictment of illegally operating a casino in the communist country.
The 31-year-old Wang, wanted by Interpol and the Chinese government for allegedly embezzling $100 million, is supposed to be released from BI detention, but De Lima stopped the order signed by immigration officials.
In the closed-door meeting with de Lima were immigration commissioner Siegfred B. Mison and Associate Commissioners Gilberto U. Repizo and Abdullah S. Mangotara.
Following allegations that Wang provided hundreds of millions of pesos to bribe lawmakers to approve the administration’s pet legislation, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, de Lima said: “I had to intervene; I had to issue an order holding in abeyance the release of Wang Bo, on account of the ground of reconsideration. So, for my own enlightenment, I want to have the facts clear.”
A legislative inquiry has been called following the allegations.
Meanwhile, Replizo said there had been no reason to reverse the decision of the BI commissioners ordering Wang’s release since a belated request from the Chinese embassy for his custody had not been “authenticated” and was a mere photocopy of a supposed official request.
“Iyon po ang aming hinahanap na deklarasyon , na dokumento ng Chinese embassy na galing sa kanilang tamang opisyal at authenticated,” he said.
“Sa amin po kasi, sa Bureau of Immigration, halimbawa ikaw yung nakulong, pag ika’y nakakulong kasi, ika’y blacklisted. O ikaw ay may kaso halimbawa, hindi ka makakapag-renew ng visa hangga’t hindi mo naki-clear. Ngayon, kung ika’y convicted, ika’y matatapon. Pag ika’y na-clear, bibigyan ka ng panahon para i-update yung visa, sapagkat ikaw ay na-clear. Pero hindi po doon ang punto e. Ang punto nating pinag-uusapan ay isumite lang ng embahada, ng Chinese police ang tamang dokumento, wala dapat issue. Pipirma po kami.” Replizo added.
Wang has been detained at the BI jail in Taguig City since his arrest on Feb. 10 upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Malaysia. The Chinese Embassy sought the BI’s assistance in apprehending Wang, saying he was wanted for illegal gambling and that his passport had been canceled. AC
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