Former BI exec Argosino claims he was tricked into detention
MANILA, Philippines — Former Immigration Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino claimed on Monday that he was tricked into detention after officials from the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division allegedly made it appear that he could post bail.
The former Bureau of Immigration (BI) official, who was allegedly involved in the bribery of Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam, said in a motion filed on Monday that he visited the Sixth Division last April 10, 2018 to check on the status of cases filed against him.
He said that Sixth Division Clerk of Court lawyer Ruth Ferrer relayed to him and his co-accused, fellow former Deputy Commissioner Michael Robles, the assurance given by Chairperson Associate Justice Sara Jane Fernandez that no arrest orders have been issued against them.
He added that Ferrer even said they could leave the Sandiganbayan premises after the bail is processed.
However, they were stopped from leaving the premises hours later due to the release of a resolution finding probable cause for plunder.
“Atty. Ferrer then informed them not to leave yet as she will call again Justice Fernandez. On her return, she said they could no longer leave the premises per instruction of the Chairman,” Argosino said in the motion prepared by his counsel.
“Upon her return, Atty. Ferrer was already accompanied by the Branch Sheriff who positioned himself behind the door to prevent them from leaving,” they added.
In their motion, the accused attached a video clip of a court sheriff, identified as Henry Villanueva, whom they accused of detaining them without proper warrant of arrest.
Argosino’s counsel decried the move, saying his client was “deceived, cheated, tricked, and betrayed.”
Argosino is seeking the inhibition of all three Sixth Division justices and the re-raffle of the case while Robles is seeking the inhibition of Fernandez.
In a resolution dated January 28, Fernandez, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Zaldy Trespeses, denied the motions, saying that the accused individuals were not deprived of their right to liberty as they voluntarily surrendered — on the same day Argosino claimed they were illegally detained.
In November 2016, 1,300 Chinese nationals without proper working visas were caught inside Lam’s Fontana Resort in Pampanga. Argosino and Robles were accused of receiving P48 million from Lam in exchange for freeing 600 of the arrested workers.
Both admitted that they received parts of the P48 million but claimed they were doing an investigation on the corruption within the bureau. /ee