Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the immediate relief of two Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials allegedly involved in extorting P50 million from gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
“I am going to recommend today to the President na for your immediate relief from your position. Because of the anti-corruption program of the government, it's better that they be relieved. It would be the President who will act on this kasi ang Presidente ang nag-appoint sa kanila e,” Aguirre said in an Unang Balita interview on Tuesday.
Aguirre was referring to Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who were allegedly caught on video accepting money from former Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero who is linked to the Macau-based gambling tycoon.
Aside from the two commissioners, Aguirre said he will also recommend to Duterte the relief of those who are involved in extortion activities in the BI.
“I'm going to recommend the immediate relief as well of officials who might have been involved, pati 'yung mga kasamahan kung meron bang involved diyan, hindi lang itong dalawang ito,” he said.
Newspaper columnist Ramon Tulfo alleged over the weekend that two Immigration associate commissioners demanded P50 million in exchange for the release of 600 out of 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers.
The Chinese workers were caught engaged in illegal online gambling operations by Bureau of Immigration operatives on November 24 at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga, being operated by Lam
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente on Monday ordered Argosino, Robles and Acting Immigration Intelligence Chief Police Director Charles Calima Jr. to answer the allegations within 24 hours.
Argosino and Robles have gone on leave.
Aguirre, during the interview, said he had spoken with Argosino and Robles on Monday.
“Ang said nila sa akin, mag-file din sila ng complaints against Sombero, Jack Lam, Calima for corruption of public officers, sapagkat ang feeling nila, is that they were framed up,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre said he had seen the CCTV footage of the two BI officials allegedly receiving bundles of cash from Sombero.
He, however, declined to make an immediate judgement based on the footage.
“I do not want to conclude kasi nakausap ko 'yung dalawang side e. Sa side ni Sombero, yung P50 million na 'yan ay para bang suhol para ma-release yung 600 Chinese illegals.”
“Sa side naman nitong dalawa (Argosino and Robles), 'yung pangyayaring 'yun na nakuhanan sa CCTV ay part and parcel noong entrapment or pang-frame up, pang-setup, pang-blackmail sa kanila,” he added.
Argosino said Robles are expected to face the media regarding the allegations on Tuesday.
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