Sandiganbayan dismisses Sombero plea to junk plunder case
Former police official Wenceslao Sombero will remain in detention after the Sandiganbayan denied his plea to dismiss his plunder case in connection with the alleged P50-million extortion by two former Bureau of Immigration deputy commissioners in 2016.
In an 11-page resolution, the court’s Sixth Division said Ombudsman prosecutors were able to state a “series of overt acts” required for a plunder case to head to a full-blown trial.
‘Series’ of actions
Sombero had argued that the alleged extortion was only a single incident that took place during the wee hours of Nov. 27, 2016. He said this would not satisfy the definition of plunder as a “series” of actions taken to acquire ill-gotten wealth.
The court disagreed, noting that former Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles received the money in two separate tranches of P20 million at 2 a.m., and P30 million later at 5:45 a.m.
“Each instance of receiving or collecting a sum of money constitutes a separate act,” it said.
The prosecution had amended the original charge sheet and pointed to Argosino as the “main plunderer,” contrary to Sombero’s claim that there was no “main plunderer.”
The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and concurred in by Associate Justices Karl B. Miranda and Zaldy V. Trespeses.
Argosino and Robles were accused of demanding a P50-million payoff from Macau gaming tycoon Jack Lam in exchange for the release of 1,316 Chinese workers who were detained for lacking the proper visas.
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