Press Release
March 25, 2018


Senator Richard J. Gordon has expressed elation at the Office of the Ombudsman's move of filing criminal charges against two former deputy commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and two others in connection with P50-million payoff for the release of 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers from the Fontana Leisure Park Hotel and Casino in Clark, Pampanga owned by Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations or the Blue Ribbon Committee, said the Blue Ribbon worked hard to conduct an exhaustive investigation, including gathering all evidence including the CCTV videotapes and cross-examining the immigration officials.

"We hail the action of the Ombudsman to charge these people in accordance with the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon. Although the Blue Ribbon feels that Gen. Charles Calima should be charged, the BROOM is happy because they worked hard. It was a victory for the Blue Ribbon, we exposed it, conducted a motu proprio investigation and gathered all the evidence, including the videotapes, and cross-examined the officials," he said.

Gordon, who initiated the investigation motu proprio, also pointed out that the filing of charges should serve as a warning for people holding responsible positions in the government not to trifle with the law.

"This is a warning to all who are holding responsible positions who trifle with the law. This is proof that the law works in this country," he said.

The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday slapped charges of plunder, direct bribery, and graft cases at the Sandiganbayan against Argosino and Robles for allegedly extorting P50-million from Lam in exchange for the release of Chinese nationals found illegally working in the Philippines.

The two are also accused of violating Presidential Decree No. 46, or the decree punishing public officials for receiving gifts from private individuals. Charged along with them is retired policeman Wenceslao "Wally" Sombero Jr., who allegedly acted as a conspirator and middleman.

The Ombudsman has recommended a P60,000 bail each for Argosino, Robles, and Sombero for the graft, direct bribery and violation of PD 46 charges. Their plunder cases are, however, non-bailable.

Meanwhile, the Ombudsman cleared Calima, former Immigration intelligence officer. He was initially included in the investigation and finding of probable cause in the extortion case. Calima's motion for reconsideration was granted by the Ombudsman, who held that the testimony of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente validated Calima's claim that his actions were pursuant to the counter-intelligence operations that he was conducting, as duly authorized, and that his receipt of the said P18 million was merely for the purpose of gathering evidence against Argosino and Robles.

Lam, meanwhile, is also facing one count of violation of PD 46. The Ombudsman recommended bail of P10,000.

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