No reason to indict Sombero
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has either become senile or she didn’t read the news on the P50-million bribery case involving two immigration officials.
Otherwise, how could she have approved the recommendation to indict Wally Sombero for plunder in the incident that happened at the City of Dreams casino?
Sombero was just a courier of casino mogul Jack Lam who bribed Immigration Deputy Commissioners Michael Robles and Al Argosino.
Sombero handed the P50 million in cash to the two officials.
Robles and Argosino deserved their comeuppance — a charge of plunder filed by the Ombudsman against them in the Sandiganbayan.
But also indicting Sombero is like shooting the bearer of bad news.
It was Sombero’s statement to this columnist about the bribery that led to my exposé. In turn, it resulted in a Senate hearing and the Ombudsman’s investigation.
The former police official testified against Robles and Argosino and even presented to the Senate a video of the two men receiving the money.
There is no rhyme nor reason to indict Sombero for plunder. What he can be accused of is corruption of a public official.
But then again, Lam should be included in the charge of corruption of a public official as the principal since the bribe money came from him.
Since Robles and Argosino have not escaped being charged with plunder as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II would have wanted, it is more likely they will start talking.
The two officials who quit their posts shortly after the scandal erupted were probably expecting their fraternity “brod” and former boss at the Department of Justice to back them up to the hilt.
Aguirre had said that they would be charged only with bribery, a bailable offense, instead of plunder, which is nonbailable.
He added that the two couldn’t be charged with plunder since P1,000 was missing from the P50 million recovered from them.
P50 million is the threshold for a plunder case to be filed against a government official.
People in Lopez, Quezon province, Argosino’s hometown, say that Al was just following orders from higher-ups.
* * *
My friend, controversial businessman Kim Wong, clarified that he was spending only P100 million in building houses for Marawi City residents.
I reported in Saturday’s column that Wong was spending P200 million.
“People might think I’m so rich to spend that much money,” Wong said.
Okay, you’re not that rich, Kim. You just have a lot of money.
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