Argosino, Robles, Sombero appeal denial of bail plea
Former Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles have appealed the Sandiganbayan’s rejection of their bail petitions in connection with their alleged involvement in a P50-million plunder case.
Former police official Wenceslao Sombero, who allegedly delivered the money to the two former officials on behalf of Macau gaming tycoon Jack Lam, also filed a motion for reconsideration on the Sixth Division’s unfavorable Aug. 30 resolution.
In their appeal, Argosino and Robles reiterated that Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and former immigration intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr.’s testimonies were hearsay.
They claimed that Morente and Calima had no personal knowledge of the events of Nov. 27, 2016, because they were not present at the City of Dreams Manila hotel-casino in Parañaque City, where the supposed handover of the money happened.
They noted that Calima conducted counterintelligence operations against them based on “secondhand information” from Sombero.
Although the incident was caught on surveillance camera, Argosino and Sombero argued that the video lacked an audio recording of the conversations.
Argosino claimed that the video “does not tell a complete and credible story” because it was taken by only 13 out of the casino’s 3,987 cameras.
Robles said the footage did not show them in possession of the paper bags full of money and the video’s accuracy “may have been irreparably tainted by too much copying.”
Bags of money
The persons who were allegedly shown receiving the bags of money in the footage were not identified, he added.
Sombero claimed that the “unidentified persons of interest in blue and in black do not ‘receive’ the bags” in the video.
Argosino and Robles also claimed that 211 of the P1,000 bills were counterfeit. For them, this meant the case could not reach the P50-million threshold required for a plunder conviction.
Robles also denied having admitted that he received the payoff during a Dec. 13, 2016, press conference.
Although Argosino mentioned that “we have received” the amount, Robles said he did not say whom the word “we” was referring to.