PHILIPPINES IMMIGRATION COMMISSIONERS ADMIT TO RECEIVING BRIBE MONEY (Update)
Caught on video, duo claim they were framed by online casino operator and took the cash to use as evidence.
Events in the Philippines regarding allegations of bribery and corruption continued to move with bewildering speed Tuesday following former police general Wally Sombero's collaboration with the National Investigation Bureau and the revelations that video exists of him handing over paper bags full of cash to two Bureau of Immigration commissioners, allegedly in the presence of the Bureau's head of intelligence .
The bribes were reportedly to secure the release of 600 of the 1,316 illegal Chinese workers found on the premises of Macau-based online gambling operator Jack Lam at the Clark Freeport.
On Tuesday the two commissioners, Al C. Argosino and Michael B. Robles, called their own press conference to claim that they had been the subject of a "frame-up" engineered by Lam, and that they had received the bribe money and decided to keep it to use as evidence against the Macau online gambling operator.
The duo suggested that they had been conducting a corruption investigation and had not reported the bribery approach by Sombero in case it disrupted their ongoing probe.
“We don’t look at this as bribe money, we look at this as evidence of corruption,” Agrosino told incredulous reporters at the presser.
They went further, alleging that Bureau intelligence chief Charles Calima, who was present when the bribes were handed over on November 27 at the City of Dreams Hotel and Casino in Pasay City, had conspired with Sombero in setting them up. Like Sombero, Calima is a former police general.
Reinforcing their claims, the two commissioners said that they had filed corruption of public officials charges against Sombero, Lam and Calima, but in the meantime had taken 30 days leave of absence from their senior BI posts.
Agrosino presented only P30 million during the news briefing, claiming that Sombero took P2 million while Calima pocketed P18 million.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre later said he has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the duo’s dismissal from the service.