Rapacious immigration commissioners
President Digong will surely be fuming with anger after he reads this.
Two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), who are his “brods” at Lex Taleonis, extorted P50 million from online gaming operator Jack Lam.
Lex Taleonis is a fraternity of law students at San Beda College of Law, the President’s alma mater.
The two commissioners, both appointed after President Digong took office, received the huge amount from Wally Sombero whose help Lam sought.
The P50 million was in exchange for the release of 600 out of the 1,316 mainland Chinese online gaming employees at Fontana Resort who didn’t have employment visas.
The two immigration officials never kept their part of the deal.
Sombero, who is now under protective custody of the National Bureau of Investigation, told this columnist the immigration commissioners were like rapacious policemen when they demanded money from Lam.
“After Lam gave them the P50 million, they demanded more. They wanted P100 million more, but Jack Lam said he didn’t want to give anymore,” said Sombero.
Lam, Sombero said, borrowed the money on short notice from the junket office of City of Dreams Hotel and Casino.
The money given to the two “rapacious” immigration commissioners came in two tranches: P20 million first and then P30 million.
The amounts were given on Nov. 27, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., on the second floor of City of Dreams.
What the two commissioners didn’t know is that the hotel-casino is crawling with CCTV cameras and recorded money changing hands.
What the two commissioners also didn’t know is that Sombero, a retired police senior superintendent, recorded their conversations.
The two commissioners were also not aware that retired police general Charles Calima, chief of the BI’s intelligence unit, was also monitoring the transaction.
Sombero had tipped off Calima about the two officials’ demand.
That’s the reason Sombero took Lam to Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre who was attending a reunion of Lex Taleonis members at Shangri-la Hotel in Fort Bonifacio on the night of Nov. 26.
But Sombero couldn’t tell the justice secretary straight that two immigration officials were demanding huge money from Jack Lam.
Sombero just told Secretary Aguirre to become Lam’s “godfather” because of the extortion demand.
“Apparently, the justice secretary misunderstood us,” Sombero said.
The two-tier excise tax system for cigarettes will earn more revenues for the government than the unitary system.
The two-tier system taxes cigarettes based on their price per pack, i.e. pricey cigarette brands are taxed more than their cheaper competition.
The unitary system taxes all cigarette brands the same amount regardless of their price.
If the unitary system is adopted, there will be less consumption of cigarettes among the lower middle class and the poor, who have the biggest number of smokers; lower consumption means less revenues for the government.
Cigarettes account for the biggest revenue collection under the so-called Sin Tax Law.