March 12, 2017
'IT'S EXTORTION,' GORDON CONCLUDES AS HE ENDS PROBE INTO ALLEGED BI BRIBERY SCAM
Concluding that the required legislation has been identified and that there was sufficient evidence to conclude that it was a case of extortion, Senator Richard J. Gordon terminated the probe, in aid of legislation, into the alleged bribery case involving high-ranking officials of the Bureau of Immigration in connection with the arrest and detention of 1,300 illegal Chinese workers from the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Clarkfield, Pampanga.
Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations or Blue Ribbon Committee, adjourned the investigation after conducting five public hearings.
"We are wrapping up the investigation, in aid of legislation. The wheels are already turning. It's extortion, outright extortion. We are now going to prepare the Committee Report on the investigation. Certainly, there will be recommendations proposals for amendments of existing laws or creation of new legislation and charges to be filed, of course," he said.
The Blue Ribbon Committee chairman said that once the report is finished, he will circulate the report to the other members of the committee for approval of the conclusion and the recommendations.
Gordon said that while he will still thoroughly study the facts and evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, he is sure that at least four of the personalities involved in the case would be recommended to be charged for extortion.
He added the committee finds former Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles accountable for extortion; the panel is also eyeing the possible culpability of former BI intelligence chief Charles Calima and BI Commissioner Jaime Morente in the extortion case.
"From the stand point of somebody na hinihingian ng pera, extortion yun. Sila (Deputy Commissioners) ang nanghingi. Ang tagal nila sa City of Dreams. Inaabangan nila yung tao, sinusundan nila. Nakasahod sila," the senator explained.
On Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Gordon said the committee was not able to establish his culpability in the extortion case given that he initiated the raid inside the casino resort and that upon learning of the extortion attempt, he recommended to Malacanang the dismissal of the two deputy commissioners and while also dismissing Calima.
He also said he finds nothing wrong with Aguirre's meeting with casino mogul Jack Lam, retired police general Wenceslao "Wally" Sombero and two Chinese interpreters at the Shangri-la Hotel in Bonifacio Global City, in Taguig as this was a public place.
Argosino, Robles and Calima gave senators conflicting statements on how they received the amount of P50-milion from Sombero. The money was supposedly in exchange for the release of the Chinese nationals working at the Fontana resort.
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