2 ex-BI execs, ex-cop, casino mogul charged over P50-M bribery

MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman has charged before the Sandiganbayan former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, and retired police officer Wenceslao Sombero, Jr., over the alleged PHP50-million bribery scandal back in 2016.

The Ombudsman charged Argosino, Robles, and Sombero with a non-bailable offense of plunder, violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, direct bribery, and violation of Presidential Decree No. 46, which bars public officials and employees from receiving gifts on any occasion, even on Christmas.

Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam is also facing one count of violation of PD 46, which also bars private individuals from giving gifts to public officials and employees on any occasion.

However, dismissed BI Intelligence chief Charles Calima, Jr. was dropped from the case after the Ombudsman granted his motion for reconsideration for lack of probable cause.

Ombudsman probers disclosed that Argosino and Robles have illegally acquired PHP50 million, when they conspired with Sombero, then-president of Asian Gaming Service Provider Association, Inc., in exchange for assistance in the release of 1,316 illegal Chinese workers at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga owned by Lam.

The anti-graft body said Argosino and Robles showed their alleged "manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence" when they conspired with Sombero for the multi-million-peso bribe.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had earlier dropped the plunder charges against Argosino and Robles, since the money recovered from them was short of PHP1,000 for a plunder case.

The Ombudsman had said that Argosino and Robles are still liable under RA No. 7080, or the Plunder Law.

It said it cannot excuse them from being indicted for plunder since Robles himself admitted that they took possession of all five bags containing the P50 million.

The Ombudsman has recommended a PHP60,000 total bail bond for the temporary liberty of Argosino, Robles, and Sombero, while it recommended a PHP10,000 bail for Lam's temporary liberty. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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