2 BI execs go on leave to allow ‘free probe’ on P50M extortion on Jack Lam
MANILA — The two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration who are being investigated for the alleged P50-million extortion on foreign gambling tycoon Jack Lam, have taken a month-long leave of absence from their duties.
Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles said they have filed for leave of absence for 30 days “in the interest of justice and in our adherence to the rule of law, and our belief in the truth.”
“We want to give everyone involved in any investigation against us the free hand to conduct the same,” they said in a signed statement on Monday.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente launched an investigation of the two and BI intelligence agent Charles Calima Jr. after the Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo cited reliable sources in alleging in his column that the three extorted P50 million from Jack Lam, a Macau-based online gaming investor.
Lam is now in trouble for hiring illegal and overstaying aliens to work in his operations at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, without work permits. The online gaming facility itself had been operating without permits.
The BI raided last month Jack Lam’s online gaming facility in Fontana and arrested 1,316 Chinese nationals who were charged with overstaying and violating the conditions of their visas.
Tulfo alleged that the BI officials received the huge amount from ex-police official Wally Sombero, in exchange for the release of 600 out of the 1,316 Chinese nationals who did not have employment visas.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II accused Lam of offering him bribes through Sombero to release the Chinese nationals, who are now undergoing deportation proceedings before the BI.
In their statement, Argosino and Robles said they “fully and wholeheartedly support President Duterte’s war against corruption in the government.” SFM