Sombero files graft complaint vs BI execs in extort try
Updated: 6:20 p.m., Dec. 16, 2016
Former police colonel Wally Sombero on Friday filed a graft complaint against on-leave Immigration Associate Commissioners Michael Robles and Al Argosino, both of whom allegedly extorted money from gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
Sombero, a retired police senior superintendent, filed his complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman around 1 p.m. against the two immigration officials for bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence for causing undue injury to government, punishable under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Robles and Argosino allegedly received bags of bribes from Lam for the release of overstaying Chinese nationals who were arrested for illegally working at Lam’s online casino at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
Lawyer Kat Compacto, Sombero’s counsel, refused to give the media a copy of the graft complaint.
She said the complaint did tackle the immigration commissioners’ extortion attempt and the P50 million Sombero handed to Argosino and Robles at the City of Dreams on behalf of Lam on Nov. 27.
“In a nutshell, na-discuss dun yung bigayan ng P50 million, which is nakuhanan ng CCTV. (In a nutshell, the handing over of the P50 million, which was caught on CCTV, was discussed). But apart from that, there are other events that transpired that are part of the complaint,” Compacto said.
“We do not want to speak any further,” she added. “We would want the Ombudsman to do their job.”
Robles and Argosino allegedly received bags of bribes from Sombero, who represented Lam, for the release of 600 of 1,316 overstaying Chinese nationals who were arrested for illegally working at Lam’s online casino at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
But the two reasoned that they had accepted the money as evidence of corruption. They then turned over the cash to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Sombero filed the graft complaint after the Inquirer reported that the two commissioners met with him and received five paper bags containing P10 million each, based on video footage of a casino mall in Parañaque.
The immigration officials accused Sombero of colluding with Immigration intelligence chief Charles Calima to set them up.
They officials also accused Calima of receiving P18 million and Sombero of receiving P2 million.
Aguirre has recommended the termination of the two immigration officials, who are fraternity brothers of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview after he had filed the graft complaint, Sombero admitted it took him a while to decide on the move.
Sombero stayed for at least three hours inside his vehicle parked in front of the Office of the Ombudsman before stepping out 1 p.m to file the complaint.
“Nanalangin ako, kumukuha ako ng sign (I prayed for a sign),” Sombero said. “I tried to call Secretary Aguirre. Nagtext ako, (I texted him). I sought his advice. He said: ‘Wally, do what is right’.”
Aguirre alleged that Sombero tried to bribe him in a Nov. 26 meeting when Sombero allegedly asked Aguirre to be the “ninong,” or godfather, of Lam in government.
Sombero admitted that he handed over P50 million to Argosino and Robles as “goodwill money” at the City of Dreams on Nov. 27.
Sombero said he was “shocked” at the gall of the commissioners to ask for P100 million more.
“I was shocked. Hindi ko naintindihan. ‘Paano ba tayo diyan, paano kikita diyan?’ (I was shocked. ‘How do we earn from this one?’) Something like that,” Sombero quoted the commissioners as saying.
“I did not expect that,” he added. “The reason why Jack Lam and Aguirre agreed on that meeting because it’s very clear, no financial consideration.”
Sombero said he and Calima set up a separate entrapment operation against the two immigration commissioners on Nov. 30, but the two did not show up to pick up the remaining P100 million.
Asked about the P2 million he allegedly received as a cut, or “balato,” Sombero said the money was for the organization of a legal team to assist the overstaying Chinese nationals.
“Binigyan ako ng bag (of money) na hindi ko na binilang. (I was given a bag of money but I did not count the cash) Ito ang budget ng legal (This was the budget for legal)… Can you imagine how many papers, including the petition of bail?” Sombero said.
He denied earning kickbacks from the extortion try.
“If I really wanted to make money, what I should do is get the money in Fontana and go to a dark place. Pero hindi ko ginawa yun (But I didn’t do that),” Sombero said.
Calima, who failed to appear for the filing of the complaint, would serve as his witness, Sombero said.
After they were accused of extorting from Lam, Argosino and Robles also filed a complaint of corruption of public officials and violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law against Sombero, Lam, Calima and two Chinese interpreters who were present during the meeting with Aguirre.
The two officials filed that complaint at before the Parañaque Prosecutors Office. IDL/rga/ATM
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