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Missing P20-M extort money out of BI chief’s custody

The missing P20 million sought by the Department of Justice (DoJ) has ended up in the custody of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

The amount, part of the P50 million allegedly extorted from Macau-based casino tycoon Jack Lam, had been unaccounted for after dismissed Bureau of Immigration (BI) deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles surrendered P30 million to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Dec. 13.

Following BI Commissioner Jaime Morente’s revelation that he authorized then BI intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr. to conduct a sting operation against the two BI deputies, Aguirre on Wednesday ordered Morente to turn over the R20 million.

The order was not complied with by Morente who explained that R18 million had been turned over to the PNP-CIDG by Calima.

Since Calima had been dismissed, Morente said he no longer has jurisdiction over the former BI intelligence officer.

Yesterday, Calima went to the OMB as soon as it opened at 8 a.m. to file a plunder case against the two dismissed BI officials in connection with the P50-million bribery scandal.

Hours later, former police officer Wally Sombero returned to the Ombudsman to turn over P2 million as his alleged share of the loot as evidence.

In his supplemental complaint affidavit, Sombero a business associate of Lam, said the money will bolster his extortion and graft charges filed last week against the dismissed BI officials.

In his complaint, Calima narrated basically the same complaint filed by Sombero against the two former BI officials.

Calima said the accused demanded an initial amount of P50 million from Lam to facilitate the release of more than 1,000 Chinese nationals operating online gambling at the Fontana Leisure and Resort Casino in Clark Pampanga.

He said he was instrumental in setting up the entrapment operations against Argosino and Robles receiving the bribe money from Sombero at the City of Dreams Casino in Parañaque.

Calima said he did not open the bag containing P18 million given to him by the accused.

He said that based on Argosino’s explanation, the respondents equally shared the bribed money, P25 million each “debunking their claim that there were others who shared the bribe.”

“This only proves that the extortion incident was only for the benefit of the two and that the names of other people that they have been name-dropping to make it appear to the Chinese that they were just emissaries negotiating for the extortion demand was just the creation of their imagination.”

“In truth and in fact, the extortion attempt was just for their own benefit, as shown by the equal sharing which they did to the money,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aguirre asked the PNP-CIDG to turn over the P18 million to the DoJ.

He made the request to CIDG head Chief Superintendent Roel Obusan.

Aguirre also asked the CIDG to provide the DoJ of whatever information it has on the case filed by Calima.

“In addition, may we also request copies of all documents and evidence submitted by Gen. Calima as well as the result of your investigation, initial or otherwise, which will be used to augment the NBI’s parallel probe,” Aguirre asked Obusan.