Ex-BI exec recounts how alleged P50-M bribe changed hands
A former immigration official narrated in the Senate on Monday how the alleged P50-million bribe changed hands after an overnight meeting at the City of Dreams in Parañaque City last November 26.
Former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Associate Commissioner Al Argosino said that he and former BI Associate Commissioner Michael Robles received the money from retired Police Senior Superintendent Wally Sombero Jr., representative of gambling tycoon Jack Lam, after their meeting last November 26.
Argosino said he and Robles arrived at a bar of City of Dreams before 10:00 p.m while Sombero came before 11 p.m. The meeting, he said, lasted until 5:00 a.m. the following day, November 27.
But even before the meeting, Argosino joined Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who also met with Lam, two interpreters and Sombero, at the Shangri-La at the the Fort at 5:00 p.m., also on the same day.
After the meeting at the Shangri-La hotel, Argosino said Sombero approached him and repeatedly told him that Lam needed a “sponsor.”
“Hindi po ako nag salita. Ang sabi nya (Sombero) po sa akin, Sir, magkano ba ang kailangan P50 million, P100 million?. Hindi po ako nagsasalita…” Argosino said.
He said Sombero came back to him later and requested another meeting at the City of Dreams.
So after the Shangri-La at the Fort meeting, Argosino said he and Robles agreed to meet with Sombero at the City of Dreams.
“If I remember right, dumating muna si Wally wala pa ho syang dalang bag,” Argosino said.
But around 11:30 p.m, he said, Sombero left and came back with two paper bags.
When the bar closed after midnight, Argosino said they transferred to another restaurant.
“Napansin namin in between alis sya (Sombero) ng alis, yun nga ang problema iniiwan yung bag sa amin…there was a time nawala ng two hours,” he said.
When Sombero came back around 5 a.m., he was carrying three more bags with him.
“Past 5 a.m.? Ang tagal nyo run ah? Alas-10 hanggang 5 a.m.?” asked Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the committee.
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan also expressed disbelief why the two former immigration officials still waited for Sombero even after the latter left them for two hours.
“Bakit kayo naghintay ng dalawang oras? Anong hinihintay ninyo? Hindi kayo umalis, bakit kayo naghihintay ng dalawang oras, wala sya, bakit di kayo umalis?” Pangilinan asked.
“Mahirap paniwalaan na dawalang oras na syang umalis….naghihintay kayo ng dalawang oras, nagkakamot kayo ng kung ano ano, nagbibilang kayo ng butiki sa ano tapos hinihintay nyo syang bumalik ng madaling araw?” he further asked.
At first, Argosino claimed that he had no idea that the bags contained money until repeated questions by Gordon.
“Sabi po nya, your honor, na may P20 million,” he said, referring to the contents of the two bags that Sombero was carrying.
Argosino and Robles earlier admitted receiving P50 million from Sombero but said P2 million of the amount went to Sombero and P18 million to former Immigration intelligence chief Calima Jr. RAM/rga
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.