2 BI execs deny extorting P50M, file graft raps vs Lam, Calima, Sombero
MANILA — The two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration tagged in the P50-million extortion controversy involving foreign gambling tycoon Jack Lam, denied on Tuesday, allegations against them, saying they were conducting “a continuing investigation” of the corruption in the agency.
Associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles faced reporters at a restaurant in Intramuros, Manila, to accuse BI intelligence chief Charles Calima of colluding with former police official Wally Sombero.
They claimed that they only had P30 million in their custody, with P2 million going to Sombero as ‘balato’ (goodwill cash) while Calima asked for P18 million supposedly to pay off Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo and Sombero.
“Right in front of you is the highest evidence of corruption of public officials. The corruption of public officials that were facilitated by no less than Jack Lam, Wally Sombero, the two interpreters and little did you know, the highest intelligence officer of the BI, Charles Calima,” Argosino said.
The associate commissioners maintained that they were conducting an investigation of the corruption in the BI – an investigation only known to them, without the knowledge of BI commissioner Jaime Morente.
“We decided to keep all the information in connection with this case,” Argosino said
As proof of their clean intentions, they also filed corruption charges against Lam, Sombero, Calima and the two Chinese interpreters who were at the meeting between Lam and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
“Mr. President, we are presenting to you the first criminal complaint against Jack Lam, against Wally Sombero, against the two interpreters with the collusion of Gen. Charles Calima. This is our gift to you,” Argosino said.
Asked why it took them so long to come out with their side of the story, he said they opted to delay filing the corruption case and coming out with their explanation as they still did not have enough evidence to pin down Lam for corruption. SFM
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