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P1K of P30-M bribe money missing

The 30-million alleged bribe money turned over to the Department of Justice (DoJ) by Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles was P1,000 short.

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes said yesterday that the money was counted Tuesday night and found out that P1,000 was missing.

“We ended counting the money turned over to us at around 8 kagabi, it is P1,000 short, so it is really P29,999,000,” said Balmes.

Despite this, he assured that the DoJ is “looking at ways po to best safekeep and secure it.”

The two immigration officials claimed that they accepted the bribe money from middleman, retired Police Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero, last November 27 at City of Dreams in Pasay City as part of their investigation as to how deep the corruption was.

The money allegedly came from Macau-based casino tycoon Jack Lam to release some of the 1,316 illegally working Chinese nationals who were arrested at Lam’s Fontana Leisure Park and Casino Resort in Clark, Pampanga.

On the other hand, Argosino and Robles claimed that they only received P30 million and not P50 million as earlier reported.

They said that P2 million went to Sombero, while the P18 million went to BI intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr. who allegedly blackmailed them after telling them that the deal was a set-up and he has recordings of the transaction.

Also on Tuesday, Argosino and Robles filed a criminal complaint against Lam, Calima, Norman Ng, ang Alexander Yu before the Parañaque City Prosecutors Office for corruption of public officials and for violating the Anti-Wire Tapping Law.

Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente appealed yesterday to the men and women of the service to stay focus on their jobs amidst the P50-million bribery scandal.

“Let not the developments of recent days derail us from the task at hand. We have a job to do, a job that we must do well as one team,” Morente said in an open letter to immigration personnel across the country.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said he will recommend the dismissal from the service of Argosino and Robles for accepting the huge pay-off from Lam. (with a report from Jun Ramirez) (JEFFREY G. DAMICOG)