DOJ chief, Atong Ang trade barbs
Gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang accused Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre of trying to shake down his partner Jack Lam at the behest of local gaming tycoon Kim Wong.
But Aguirre disputed Ang’s charges and even authorized the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an agency under his supervision, to investigate Ang’s claims against the justice secretary and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
“Atong Ang is a liar,” Aguirre stressed, belying Ang’s claim that he was the godfather of one of Kim Wong’s children.
“If Atong Ang has evidence, he should immediately file a case or ask for any kind of investigation. I’m ready to face him,” Aguirre said.
Ang made the claim after Aguirre asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue to look into Ang’s possible tax liabilities.
But Ang, who operates online jai-alai numbers game through Meridien Vista Gaming Corp., insisted he could prove that Aguirre was behind the extortion attempt against Lam.
Aguirre, he claimed, was aligned with Wong, who is supposedly interested in the online gaming business of Macau tycoon Jack Lam in Pampanga.
“Aguirre and Kim Wong started the harassment of Jack Lam. I can prove this,” he said.
“Secretary Aguirre, all my taxes are paid. There is no politics here. I don’t meddle in that. I don’t have a cigarette factory,” Ang said on Monday night.
“Let us just meet anywhere and I will prove all my claims,” Ang said.
He also implicated Esperon in the supposed scandal, saying the latter recently went to Pangasinan and asked officials not to patronize Ang’s operation.
Ang claimed Esperon also demanded a cut from STL collections in the province, a charge that Esperon vehemently denied.
Aguirre thus ordered the NBI on Tuesday to investigate him and Esperon and file charges if warranted.
“(The NBI)… is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the accusations of Ang… against the Secretary of Justice and… Esperon,” Aguirre ordered NBI director Dante Gierran.
He also gave Gierran 15 days to furnish him a report of the NBI’s compliance with the order and the results of its investigation.
In an interview, Aguirre accepted Ang’s challenge for him to face an investigation before a judicial or legislative body as he vehemently denied the charges.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said proper agencies have been directed to ensure that Ang’s gambling operations comply with President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 13, issued in February, against illegal gambling.
“It will be under the proper authorities to make sure that Mr. Ang will comply,” Abella said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.