PHILIPPINES JUSTICE SECRETARY WILL NOT TAKE ACTION AGAINST ALLEGED BRIBER (Update)
After winding up the media, Aguirre says there is not enough evidence to lay charges.
It appears from Philippines media reports Thursday that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is rowing back a little on his widely reported allegations that gambling mogul Jack Lam tried to bribe him, the head of Pagcor and sundry Immigration Bureau functionaries.
Aguirre told local reporters that he will not pursue any legal action against retired Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero (earlier alleged to have been an intermediary for Lam) or Lam himself, and "clarified" that in fact Lam is not the employer of the 1,316 arrested Chinese nationals, since the operator of the illegal online gaming operations who allegedly did employ them is "only renting a portion" of Lam's Fontana property, where the arrests were made.
The Justice Secretary did not reprise his earlier accusations that Lam had also tried to bribe the head of regulator Pagcor, Andrea Domingo, and other government officials involved in the mass arrests last week.
Asked if it is possible that the unidentified employer of the arrested Chinese may just be a frontman for Lam, Aguirre again went out on a limb to say he believed so, but stressed that he has no basis to conclusively say so, although he did call for an investigation of Fontana regarding its responsibility for illegal online gambling operations apparently conducted on its property.
Exciting even more media interest, reports have emerged that another investigation may be launched into the "escape" of around 70 of the detained Chinese.
Commenting on this suspicious occurrence, Aguirre said an investigation was necessary in case Immigration officials were involved in facilitating such escapes; Our readers will recall that there were earlier reports of bribes being offered for the release of detainees.
Aguirre speculated that there may be "a syndicate" behind the apparently mysterious mass escape.
Only 26 of the escapees have been re-arrested thus far, the Justice Secretary said.