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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has given Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morante until today to turn over the missing P20 million of the P50 million that was allegedly extorted from Macau-based casino tycoon Jack Lam.
The DoJ order came following Morente’s revelation that he sanctioned the entrapment operation against his deputies, Al Argosino and Michael Robles who allegedly received the R50 million last Nov. 27 at the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino Hotel in Clark, Pampanga.
Morente said he gave the go-signal to then BI intelligence chief, retired police general Charles Calima Jr., to entrap the embattled BI officials.
Argosino, Robles and Calima have since been dismissed from their posts and are being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
In his memorandum to Morente, Aguirre told the BI chief that “in order to preserve the evidence of such extortion activity, you are hereby directed to turn-over within twenty-four (24) hours, the remaining P20 million to this Department for safekeeping or to the NBI, the agency conducting the investigation on the alleged extortion incident.”
Before their dismissal, Argosino and Robles claimed they were conducting their own investigation into the alleged illegal activities of Macau-based tycoon Jack Lam. They returned the P30 million on Dec. 13 to Aguirre, claiming that the rest of the money was taken by Calima and retired police general Wally Sombrero, the alleged middleman.
Sombero claimed he received none of the P50 million which he himself handed to Argosino and Robles. He said that the money was extorted from Lam in exchange for the release of some of the 1,316 illegally working Chinese nationals arrested last Nov. 24 inside Fontana.
Aside from securing and turning over the P20 million, Aguirre told Morente to “make a written report to the undersigned on your compliance with this directive not later than 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, December 22, 2016.”
(JEFFREY G. DAMICOG)